This is to give you a heads up on what you'll need to consider. I'll be going into greater detail and specifics on each of these areas and more in future posts.
Mistake #1: Hey, It Reads Good to Me!
I'm not kidding. The thing that dooms our self-published books most often is the fact that we've spent so much time and energy in actually writing the thing and we're so thrilled to be finally done, that we think we're DONE. No, we're not.
Writing the book is, honestly, only about half the job. Someone said "writing is rewriting" and I think they're write, or right. Hire a professional editor (you can find one online) or do it yourself, but be ruthless. Get several honest friends who read a lot of books to be readers for you and listen to their comments. Cut, rework, re-arrange, combine, contract, expand - do whatever it takes to polish this baby up to the professional level you want it to be. It's worth it.
Mistake #2: No One Judges A Book By Its Cover
So don't skimp here. I see too many self-published books with murky, low resolution images, funky fonts, and too many words. Yes, you CAN do it yourself, but you'll need to create about 50 renditions before you get it right. There's an art to book cover design and it's not as easy as it seems.
Again, hire a professional or look into some online book design sites that will help you for free. (Canva, Poster My Wall, and Adobe Spark are a couple to check out. I used Adobe's PhotoShop software for mine.) Send the cover out to friends for feedback. Review a TON of professional book covers in your genre and decide what it is that you like and don't like about them and copy that style. For a small fee, a bunch of people will compare two options you've created and give you feedback at www.pickfu.comPickFu.
Don't consider your cover ready until it can sit next to other books on a store's display shelf and hold its own.
Mistake #3: The Content Will Speak for Itself
- Don't use a font that is difficult to read because you think it looks cool. Use a more typical font (Garamond, Minion, Caslon, for example). Fiction has a little more leeway, as do children's books, but choose a font that is common for that genre and always one that is easy on the eyes.
- Don't use a tiny font size, trying to fit as many words on one page as you can. Look at books you admire and notice the font size.
- Don't make too narrow or too fat margins. .75 is about right on the outside, 14 for the inner gutter.
- Give your readers breathing room. When they open up your book, are they met with a pleasing look, or assaulted by a sea of words with few breaks? Consider how your reader will move through your book and how to make it an enjoyable experience for them.
Mistake #4: So, I Just Put It On Amazon, Right?
- Do you want to sell your book in bookstores? Then you need Ingram Spark to be able to offer bookstores the discount they expect. Bookstores will not buy from Amazon, so don't use Expanded Distribution on Amazon's CreateSpace for that purpose.
- Have you thought about an ebook version? (You should). Use KDP for that on Amazon, and Ingram Spark for other ebook stores.
- How will people find your book? Do you have a website up and running BEFORE you publish? Have you started blogging about your book oh, say, 6 months BEFORE you publish? Are you collecting emails through your website so you can connect with followers? What other ways can you create a presence online? Are there communities that have to do with your topic that you can become active on?
- Who will review your book? Have you started thinking about who you will send it to?
Yes, this means you will want to become active on social media. Choose a couple only to begin with, don't try to be everywhere at once. (Facebook is still the most active, after that you might look at Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.)
Putting your book up on Amazon is like sliding it in at the bottom of a stack of about 6 zillion books. How will anyone know it's there? Whether you like it or not, if you're self publishing, you need to become at least a little bit savvy about marketing. There's loads of information online about how to do that if you look for it, I assure you.
Mistake #5: I Have a Publishing Deadline to Meet!
Don't give yourself some arbitrary deadline for publishing. You will be doing yourself and your book a huge disservice. All these things I've been talking about TAKE TIME. A lot of time. Make sure your book is absolutely the best it can be - the most well written, clear, and accessible you can make it for your readers. Your cover conveys the spirit of the book and is clear, attractive, and appropriate for your genre. Your interior design is well thought out and readable. You've got your website up and running and you've started writing about the book and building expectation before you publish.
You've already spent a lot of time and energy in writing the book and it's important to you. Now take the same kind of time and care and energy to put those words into the most attractive, presentable, professional package you can.
You will need to take off your writer's hat and don your business hat. Because if you're self-publishing, you aren't just launching a book, you're launching a profession. Treat it that way. It will take you much farther toward success and will give your book the chance it deserves.