Self-publishing is a really exciting process. After spending years putting blood, sweat and tears into your book, it can be tempting to rush to the finishing line, but that only leads to mistakes. Some authors don’t realise just how many careful processes are involved once the final draft is complete but before it makes sense to actually print a book.
In a traditional publishing house, there are teams of people ensuring everything is double-triple signed off as ready for publication. That’s not the case with self-publishing, and without this, some authors can really damage their brand by publishing a book that isn’t ready. Avoid that risk by using this prepublication checklist to make sure you’ve got everything covered before you go live. Self-publishing is much easier if you take the time to get it right the first time, and first impressions count, so let’s make sure you nail it as follows:
1. Have a Killer Cover Design
Like it or not, people judge books by their covers. Cover design is much more important than many authors realise. The right cover makes the difference between a browser/reviewer/bookstore buyer picking up a book or not. People make snap decisions and first impressions count. If the cover is sloppy, they will think the writing is too.
Bonus tip: Do your homework on Amazon to get a real feel for cover design in your genre, and make sure your book can compete visually.
2. Perfect Your Writing
No matter what you have written, your writing needs to be in the absolute best shape possible, and that inevitably means bringing in an editor and proofreader. You don’t want reviewers to point out plot holes or typos that could have easily been fixed. It’s much better to get everything tidied up before you print a book.
If you’ve written fiction, work with an editor to get the building blocks of your story solid – the storytelling, the structure, the characterisation, etc. If you’ve written non-fiction then work with an editor who can ensure you’ve laid out your argument well, that all the concepts are easy to understand, that all the instructions are simple to carry out, etc.
Then, just when you think you’ve finished, bring in a proofreader to make sure no nasty typos have slipped in.
Bonus tip: Use beta readers – these are readers who can give you constructive criticism before you finalise your writing.
3. Know Who Your Target Readers Are
I’ve seen authors rush into ineffective and expensive book marketing endeavours, aimed at the wrong people. Before you print a book or do any kind of book marketing, you need to have a strong idea of who your ideal readers are – you should know their: age, interests, what media they are exposed to, who they are influenced by, etc. Your book might appeal to two or three different types of readers; that’s fine – clue yourself up on all of them. It might sound like extra work, but it will save you time and money in the end. Once you know who you are targeting, you can have a more efficient approach.
Bonus tip: Use readers’ profiles on GoodReads to see what readers tend to review your type of books – are they young, old, do they have anything in common?
4. Have an Impressive Online Presence
This is particularly important for unknown, debut authors – the first thing a reviewer will probably do is Google you. Impress them with a professional author website and active social media channels. The operative word here is “impress”; it is better not to do this than to do it badly. You don’t have to have a complicated author website – just a few pages (about the author, about the book and a blog) will do. It’s a good idea to have a way that readers can keep in touch so that when your next book is ready, you can tell them about it.
Bonus tip: Try to match the colours, fonts and the design style of your book cover in your online presence. Ask your cover designer to create backgrounds for your social media profiles.
5. Have a Solid Distribution Network in Place
IngramSpark is perfect for this. As an author, you need to make it as easy as possible for people to get hold of your work, whether they prefer to read eBooks, paperbacks or hardcovers, whether they prefer to buy online or at their local independent bookshop, whether they live in London or Lisbon. Ingram’s huge distribution network means that your eBooks and print books are available worldwide instantly.
Bonus tip: Don’t restrict your sales by only having your work available in one format. You probably have a reading preference and your readers do too, so make sure your book is in multiple formats.