Publishing a book takes a lot of work. There’s the writing, of course, the editing, the page and cover design—it’s almost endless, it seems. There are a lot of places to build your brand, and a lot of ways to make mistakes. We asked Amy Edelman, founder of IndieReader, about the common self-publishing mistakes authors make and how they can get things right the first time around.
I launched IndieReader, the essential consumer guide for self-published authors and the people who write them, back in 2009. Since then the site has exploded with services—from the IR Discovery Awards to book reviews—all directed at indie authors.
We’ve read thousands of books, so I’ve seen my share of big mistakes, as well as small things that make a big difference in how an author’s work is received.
Typical mistakes made by first-time indie authors include:
No contact info
Picture this: You write, design, and publish an amazing book. You come up with a killer title and create a fabulous cover. But nowhere—not in your book, author website, Twitter bio, or Facebook page—do you have your contact info.
Bad cover design
IndieReader has been around since 2009, and while we see less of this these days, some indie book covers look like something torn off a book report or from an unmemorable science project.
There’s really no reason for it. Either do the research on your own to find something that’s vibrant and exciting or hire someone else to design it. You can also barter for your cover, so long as whoever is working on the cover gets you and the topic of your book.
Great at visual design, but verbal not so much
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there is still a need for words. Most self-publishing services give you the option to write a description of your book. If writing is not your strength, find a person who can do it in a manner befitting your fabulous photos, amazing graphic design, etc. It would be a mistake to do it yourself.
On the other hand, here are a few things that can distinguish your book from the crowd:
Make a book that stands out
I learned this lesson when I started my career in public relations. Whatever you do, make sure your book has a point of differentiation. Whether in terms of content, title, cover or approach to the topic, try to create something we haven’t seen before.
Get an identity
If you intend to distribute your book beyond your circle of family and friends, get an ISBN. When making a book through Blurb BookWright or Blurb’s plug-in for Adobe® InDesign®, you get an ISBN for free, and a number of other indie publishers offer ISBNs as well.
Find an editor
Even if what you’re creating is more visual than verbal, make sure it’s well edited. There’s nothing worse then than finding a typo.