Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Five Essential Self-Publishing Rules

It looks nice on the outside. The cover is great and the blurb on the back has the pit of your stomach stirring with excitement, then you open the first page and something looks weird. The name of the book is spelled incorrectly. Oh yeah, and almost every single page that was designed like a high school term paper has some sort of error. I've seen it before. Have you?

Here are 5 tips that should help any self-publisher produce a minimally respectable book.
  1. It doesn't matter how well you write. Hire an editor. Even editors need editors when they are writing. This does not guarantee that your book will be error-free but it should at least ensure that there are no errors on your book cover. I learned the hard way that the designer should not be the editor. Now, although I am a good editor, when I receive a design layout job, I hire a trained proofreader or editor. If you are on an extremely low budget, give it to at least two or three of your well-spoken friends to read through for errors. And yes, this goes for corporations who want to publish trade-specific books too. Your secretary may edit your letters very well but she shouldn't be editing your books.
  2. Hire a professional designer or use a template. Templates are fabulous. They can give you the professional look without you needing to learn all the skills of a professional. If you are looking for a customized look, however, hire a designer. You don't want your book to look like something your 8th grade daughter did for you in Microsoft Word. Ugh.
  3. Test your book. If it's a how-to book, someone needs to try using it to see if it really shows a reader how to. Is it a recipe book? Well, you're going to have to let your greedy cousin work for you or hire someone to test every single recipe. Yes, I'm serious. Yes, I know it's expensive to get the ingredients.
  4. Get a hard copy printer's proof. Try to use a printer who will send you a sample of your book before you complete your order of 500 books. You don't want all 500 books to end up with an unintended plain orange background to your book entitled, It’s all Red.
  5. Don't rush it. Authors are often surprised at how lengthy the publishing process is. In order to ensure a quality product, one must pay a lot of attention to detail. This is even more so when you are self-publishing. Remember. There is nobody to blame when the ISBN printed on the back of the book is wrong and you don't want to come off looking like a fool to those nice bookstore owners who gave you a chance by taking five copies of your books on consignment.


  1. Excellent advice. Edit. Edit. Edit. That's my rule. Even after I get my galleys I'm shocked at the mistakes I find. Thanks for the post.

  2. Hey Cleemckenzie. I am even shocked by some of the errors I make on this blog too. When writing, we have to be 100% dedicated to refining our work until we think we have reached perfection... and trying not to edit the life and personality out of our work. It's a balance that is tricky to achieve.

  3. Fantastic advice!!! Do you have a resource to help us find good/affordable editors? Or a place to find templates?

  4. Hey Nessarox. That is a fantastic question. I will look into it and do a blog post to answer your question. Be sure to follow by email or join on Facebook to be alerted when there are updates.

  5. I love this blog. These are 4 great rules to follow. My favorite is don't rush it. Thanks for writing this.