The process of getting a novel ready for publication is a long one. Rushing it will result in the release of a bad final product. I will be making several editing passes before the manuscript is ready. The first pass is fairly high level and I do it over a short period of time. This lets me clean up the overall plot. I might rearrange chapters, add a chapter, or on a rare occasion delete one. By the time this is finished I usually have my content editor's input. I will use his feedback to go back and make any large-scale changes that are required. At the end of this process, the manuscript's chapters are in their correct order and the general plot is in good shape.
All of the preceding work is done in Scrivener. I like to use it because I can keep two documents open at the same time and moving chapters around is a piece of cake. I realize this can be done just as easily in Microsoft Word, but Scrivener is designed for writers and it just works better in my opinion. When I'm doing my detailed editing though, I prefer Word. At the end of the rough editing process, I transfer the manuscript to Word.
The next editing pass is far more detailed and takes place after allowing some time to pass giving me a fresh look at things. Here, I add descriptions and make subtle changes to sentence structure to allow the story to flow as smoothly as possible and to bring the story to life in the reader's imagination. There is a fine art to doing this that I have yet to master. Add too much description and your reader's imagination is constrained to what the author sees in their mind. Add too little and the reader might imagine something that clashes with what the author needs them to visualize. It's during this pass that I also find a lot of strange grammatical errors as I look to give each sentence a proper place in the overall manuscript.
Sometimes, I will go through the manuscript one more time making sure that all the sentences work together to move the story along. If the detailed editing pass was done properly, this is nothing more than a quick read. After I'm satisfied with the finished product, I print it out and give it to my wife who is my grammarian. She is not a fan of science fiction and it typically takes her many weeks to review a novel. I take her comments and enter them into the manuscript. This is also usually when I begin working on my next novel.
When all the grammatical errors have been corrected, the manuscript is sent off to a reader in Germany for a final check. Having a second proofreader ensures I have the best possible product for release to the public. While the novel is getting its final review, I register for my copyright and begin the process of creating the print version. The interior is formatted to the proper size, page numbers are added, headers are created, and chapter page breaks are defined.
Usually, by this point in time, I have a final version of my cover art. If I get this sooner, I can build a cover while my wife is doing her editing. I create the cover by downloading a template from CreateSpace and building the cover in Photoshop Elements by merging in the artwork and adding all the other stuff that's on a cover (title, author name, back cover description, author photo, etc.). I use an estimate of the page count for this process. Once the cover is done, I generate a JPG and let the world see it for the first time.
This is also when I plan for a release date and begin promoting the book on social media. I can also upload a preliminary copy to Amazon and allow pre-release orders to begin.
The final step is to upload the Kindle version of the book to Amazon. I then generate a PDF of the print version and then look at it as if I was looking at a book. The problem here is that the book is actually shown as a mirror image of how it's going to be printed with the left page appearing on the right-side of the screen. This is an artifact of how the book is printed and I've gotten used to it. When I'm satisfied the PDF is 100% correct, I check the page counts and if needed download a new template and rebuild the cover. If the page count was accurate, I can skip this step. Finally, after everything is done, the book is uploaded to CreateSpace and the process is complete.
As you can see, a lot goes into publishing a novel and if you're a self-published author it all falls on you to make it happen. I will let you know here as this long process works its way to completion.