I am not a publisher. I know absolutely nothing about the publishing world. These tips have nothing to do with how to find a publisher or any of that stuff. But I love to read, and I simply love books. The look, the feel, the smell. Imagining what I'll find in it's pages. So I know what I look for in a book- what makes me buy it, and go on to read it.
I've bypassed a lot of potentially good books because they were obviously self-published and unattractive. Maybe I shouldn't, but when a book is unattractive, I sometimes think less of it's content. If it doesn't fit a certain visual mold, I wonder why it wasn't good enough to get a "real" publisher. And if it wasn't good enough to attract a publisher, then why should I read it.
I know, I know! I'm not saying this is logical or fair, but it happens. And I'm not the only one who thinks like this. So how can you self-publish the book you've worked so hard to write in a way that attracts readers like me? Ashley's Five Rules of Self-Publishing.
1) Hire a Good Cover Designer
Spend some money to get a great cover. Despite the old adage, people do judge books by their cover. How else are they going to judge which of the billions of books on the planet they want to read? Create something eye-catching and interesting. Make sure any art or pictures that go on your cover are high quality. Go to a book store and look at the covers in the same genre as your book, or just the covers in the popular section. Take notes, and go forth to design your own.
2) Have Great Cover Copy
What's cover copy? It's the stuff on the back of a book that is a reader's first introduction to your book. Don't be too vague or too detailed, but tell us something! I can't stand it when I read the cover copy and have no idea what the book is actually about. Give readers a little synopsis. Feel free to put a few endorsements from other people, but don't take up too much of the cover with endorsements. Readers want to know what your book is about, not hear a bunch of praise. And please, please, don't describe your own book as awesome, or the greatest, or life-changing. It may be all those things, but you shouldn't be the one to say it. Ever.
3) Be Mindful of Font Size and Spacing
This is one you may not think about, but I definitely have. In my experience, a lot of self published books have giant print and huge margins or line spacing. This doesn't happen with big-name publishers. You want your book to be easy to read, but you don't want it to look like a children's book (unless that's what it is...then by all means, wide space it up!). I think the reason this happens so often is that self publishers don't always meet the traditional word counts, so they use a bigger font and spacing to make it seem longer. Please don't do this. Settle for a shorter book, or add more content! Similarly, don't use a weird font. Stick with the classics, which are easier to read. If you want your book to be taken seriously, make it look professional.
4) Hire a Good Editor and Proofreader
UGH! This is the most important one to me! Big-name published books get edited carefully before going to print. It's kind of a game to me to find mistakes in those books because it doesn't happen too often. But you know what game is way too easy? Finding errors in self published books. They're everywhere. It's annoying and detracts from your message. If your book is riddled with misspellings and grammatical errors, I lose some respect for you. Hire an editor and proofreader. You, as the writer, are too familiar with the book to recognize the mistakes in it. You need others to do this dirty work. It's worth the investment.
5) Give Your Book Away
You've written this book you're proud of, and now you want to get it out to the world! Yes, you want to sell it so you can make some money. But in order to get the broadest audience and generate the most attraction for your book, you need to give some copies away. Give advance copies to some book or lifestyle bloggers (whichever is a match for your genre) who can create online buzz for you before your book is even available to buy. Give away copies on your own blog or social media sites (by the way, you should have some social media pages. Which ones are up to you, but get out there!). Remember, you are unknown. Why would someone want to buy a book from someone they don't know? Your first job is to get your name and your message out there, before you start making money.
Yes, following my rules will take a little time and cost some money. But isn't it worth it to give your book the best start possible?
Are you self-publishing a book? Tell me about it in the comments! Any rules surprise you?
Are you a reader? Do you agree with my rules?