Self-publish Like a Pro

After all the work you do to get your story ready for public consumption, the last thing you need to do is call attention to the fact that you self-published it. For a lot of readers the hint that a title might be self-published is enough to make them drop your book and move on. They don’t care how good the story is, that you poured over it looking for typos until your eyes bled, or how you poured your soul into it. A self-published book has a certain stigma that you need to deal with, and the only way to do that is to make it look polished.

That’s right, the moment you decide to put out your title on your own is strike one against your book. You can complain about how unfair it is, but that’s not doing you any good. The only way to put the odds back in your favor is to not call attention to the fact that you self-published; and the only way to do that is to make your book appears as professional as possible. Here are a few tips to help you do just that.

Get a Name for Your Publishing Company

Nothing smells like self-published more than going to Amazon and not seeing the name of the publisher listed with the book. That’s right, you need to start your own publishing company. It’s not scary, all you need to do is give it a name, preferably not your name or initials. Think of something you like, or something innocuous like Boatslip Books, or Batwing Press. Once you have the name for your press, Google it to make sure it’s not already taken.

Get an ISBN

As scary as that may sound. Once your company has a name, it’s very easy to get and assign an ISBN to your book. All you do is go to Bowker Identifier Services, open an account and decide how many ISBNs you want to purchase. You will need one ISBN for each format your book comes in (e-book, trade paper, hardcover, mass market). Bowker will walk you through the process and get you on your way. It’s very simple, so don’t be afraid.

Get a Logo

Find a graphic artist who will do it cheap, or do it yourself. Remember, a logo should be simple and distinguishable at any size. Look at publisher logos to get an idea of what I’m talking about.

Be Thoughtful About the Interior of Your Book

Read my post on Page Layout Tips for Self-Published Authors to find out what I’m talking about. Nothing smells like self-published than a book interior that’s poorly designed.

Get a Good Book Cover

Some authors design their own book covers with varying degrees of success. We’ve all looked at a book cover and rolled our eyes in disgust. You do not want that to happen to your title. You have to choices, hire someone or do it yourself.

If you’re going to make your own book covers, learn how to use your design software and be honest about the layout and overall look. Think about your fonts, I have a post about cover design and fonts that might help. Compare your work with other professionally designed book covers. Does it mach up or look horrendous? Put your ego aside and find a someone who can give you an honest opinion.

If you feel you can’t do it yourself—most people fall into this category—then hire somebody to design the cover for you. Luckily, a simple Google search will call up a host of graphic designers clambering to do the job. All you need to do is find someone with the right mix of talent and price. Feel free to take a peek at some of the covers I’ve designed and contact me. You have to start somewhere.

Get Your Book Distributed Everywhere

It’s true that most books are sold via Amazon, but that doesn’t mean you should only have your books in one retail outlet. Not everybody buys from Amazon, believe it or not, and you want to reach as many people as possible. Even if it’s an e-book, you need to have it available everywhere.

Print-on-demand is always the best option for self published authors. When a book is made via print-on-demand, it means that when a book is ordered, only the amount of copies ordered will be printed and sent to the bookstore. This cuts down on returns and is a lot cheaper for you, the publisher.

When I had my own publishing company, I used Lightening Source to print and distribute the physical copies to bookstores via print-on-demand. Lightning Source is owned by Ingram, a book distribution company, which is where bookstores would order them. Ingram can also distribute e-books, but I handled e-book distribution on my own. It was more work, but I didn’t mind. You may not feel that way.

Lightning Source now has a service designed specifically for self-published authors called Ingram Spark.

If you decide to distribute your e-book on your own, it’s simple. Go to all the e-book retailers (Kobo, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play) and set up accounts with each one, then enter the metadata for your book, upload the cover art and the epub file. Just remember that this means you’ll have to enter all the metadata for every store that carries your e-book. Make sure you enter the name of your publishing company.

Now Get Moving

And that’s all there is to it! Once you have all of this in play, you can start getting your book ready for the world. But before you do, give it another careful read-through for typos. You can never do that enough times.

Feel free to use the comment section for questions.

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