Jul 7, 2023 • 7 min read

Mixam’s Book Writing Tips: Helping You Get Ready For Print

You’ve got the manuscript, but do you know how to check it? Read our checklist to make your book unmissable.

Mixam’s Book Writing Tips: Helping You Get Ready For Print

Whether you’re writing a book for the first time or an experienced author, there’s no substitute for preparation. Having completed your writing, you should feel confident that it will leave a positive impression on the people who come across your work. But we know it’s not just about the final destination - it’s also important to focus on the journey. And even the smallest details can trip up any author.

But self-publishing a book is an exciting time - you get to work on your terms, have full creative control, and set your own deadlines and the publication cost. But before you send your files to print, consider these questions to ensure your writing is the best it can be:


Does my publication have a clear anchor point or theme?

A theme should be your guiding light throughout the entire writing process. It’s an overarching presence in your writing that’s different from a subject or message. A subject is the point you’re trying to steer your reader towards, such as love, power or forgiveness. A message, however, is a lesson or statement, like portraying the importance of friendship or highlighting injustice. Building a theme is much easier when you’ve conducted thorough research. It will help you maintain accuracy and feed into components like historical accuracy, factual and technical information, etc.

But equally, it’s important to remain open-minded to change. New ideas and themes can emerge, taking your story in a new direction. You may have a favourite chapter or lines, but if they don’t fit your theme, consistency is more worthwhile than taking your reader down an obscure or irrelevant path that doesn’t correspond or contribute to your narrative. 


Are your characters fully developed?

Characters carry your story - they’re almost inseparable from the plot. Suppose your reader cannot understand individual characters or distinguish their relationship with others. In that case, you’re not giving them all the information they need to appreciate your story’s impact and events. As readers, we gravitate to the complexities and depth of the human spirit, which often pulls a story together. Ask yourself the following:


  • Is there a clear point of view?: Is your story in first person (narrated by a character), third person (told from a specific character’s perspective), or third person omniscient (told from an all-knowing viewpoint)? Choose a point of view and stick to it.


  • Have I nailed the dialogue?: Speech breathes life into stories and gives each character a voice. It establishes mood, relationship statuses and suspense. Does your written dialogue advance the plot, reveal personalities and form a basis for interesting interactions with other characters? Compelling dialogue moves the story forward and can hint at possible future events. 


  • Are my characters ‘whole’?: Your genre and perhaps target audience will dictate this, but you need to ensure you’ve ‘fleshed out’ your characters. Underline a character’s moral compass, ethics, thought process, and how they fit in (or don’t) with others. Do your characters have strengths and conflicts, like physical challenges or emotional struggles? Do they act in character throughout the story?


Is your storyline complete?

Ask yourself if you can strengthen part of your story with more detail or emotion. Stories need moments of tension or difficulty to keep readers engaged. Especially when you have a target audience in mind, it will help you address what’s important so you can deliver an experience that will resonate. It would also help if you also questioned whether you need to expand parts of your story or fill in unexplained gaps to fill the timeline or plotline. Considering this will prevent the reader from becoming confused and unable to follow the storyline.

And it’s not just the storyline that needs to be believable; so does the setting. Readers need to feel connected to the world the story inhabits. It should immerse the reader and create a vivid impression of physical locations, time periods and atmosphere.


Have you thoroughly proofed your writing?

There’s nothing worse in book writing than printing a book to find issues afterwards. Spellchecking and proofreading software are abundant nowadays, and old-fashioned reading your work aloud or sharing it with others to review is always worthwhile. Proofing ensures quality and provides authority. AI writing assistants like Grammarly can help you pinpoint these issues, including tonal, sentence structure and stylistic matters.


Does your book cover represent the story?

This point may be more design-based, but how your book cover will look will surely be at the back of your mind as you write. The main function of your cover is to give your story a ‘face’ and to sell your book. You could recruit a design professional or handle the book design yourself. Your book’s theme, setting and time period are key design influences that can dictate the creative direction. And it doesn’t just relate to imagesTypography also impacts the overall look through size, font, colour, and layout. You can find creative inspiration from social media platforms like Pinterest and real-world examples on your bookshelves, bookstores, galleries and more.


The Finishing Touches:

Does your author bio truly reflect you?

Author biographies are a chance for readers to get to know you beyond the pages of your book. Ask yourself how you want to be perceived and why the reader should buy and turn the cover in the first place.

 Author bios should contain personal, meaningful and important information and help readers gauge your personality and reputation in around 300 words. Write in the third person, focusing on key achievements and show why you’re qualified to write on a particular subject to establish credibility. For more information on how to write an author bio, check out this guide.


Is your book title right for the book?

Imagine you walk into a bookstore and, from across the room, you see your book on display. Does the title capture your book’s essence, and would it draw people in? Memorable titles are often short, evocative and reflect elements of your story such as your characters or setting. It should intrigue potential readers and reflect the content or theme. Book generator tools are available online and effectively overcome writer’s block after months or even years of writing a manuscript. 


If you’ve completed the above points, congrats, your manuscript is ready for printing! This list may vary depending on your book’s requirements, but these additional elements should provide a strong foundation for your writing process. And before you’re ready to upload your manuscript and cover design, ensure you share drafts with trusted friends or people who will give you reliable feedback. To get your print project started, log in to your account or learn more about how to print with us here. And for more news and inspiration, check out the array of posts on Mixam's Blog and visit our Support section for helpful guidance and advice on all things print.


Image Credit: Freepik

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