Five Self-Publishing Do’s and Don’ts!

Self-publishing offers writers opportunities that other publishing routes are not able to. It’s only this path where authors have creative control. Production and marketing? You always have the final say at every step of the process.

But just like all other paths, there are common mistakes authors make that might hinder you from achieving your literary goal. Follow these five tips so that you can make an effortless publishing debut.

DON’T design your own cover. Nothing screams 'amateur' like a poorly-designed book cover. Regardless of how well your book is written, a reader has to get through that cover to reach the actual text, and that’s unlikely if it isn’t eye-catching and interesting.

DO have a cover designed by a professional—or at least someone with a background in cover design. Book covers are an art form all their own, and it’s the rare author who’s proficient at both writing and cover design.

DON’T use 'novelty' typefaces for your book. 'Comic Sans' and 'Chiller' have their place—and that place is in emails to friends and invitations to Halloween parties. What seemed fun and whimsical on your Word document looks downright childish in a bookshop.

DO use traditional typefaces. Garamond, Bembo, Janson, Electra, or Caslon will give your book a classy and professional look.

DON’T reuse an ISBN. Your first book didn’t sell that many copies, and now you’re self-publishing your second. Why not just move that old ISBN (International Standard Book Number) over to the new book and save a few bucks? No, no, no.

DO use a different ISBN for each book. Not only does an ISBN identify a unique book, it also identifies the book’s edition and format. For example, your book’s hardcover, paperback, and (depending on who you ask) e-book versions each require their own ISBN, as do their different editions.

DON’T assume that an image will look good on the page because it looked good on your computer display. On your computer screen, images are displayed at 72 dots per inch (dpi) in what’s called the Red-Green-Blue (RGB) colour space.

DO make sure your image is prepared with the proper resolution and colour space. Pictures in printed books are usually 300 dpi and use the Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black (CMYK) colour space. Make sure your graphics are prepared for the format in which they’ll be displayed.

DON’T handle editing yourself. Of course, you should re-read your book, make changes, look for mistakes, and fact-check. You probably won’t catch everything, though; plus, you already know what you meant when you wrote the draft, so your mind is prone to ‘fill in the blanks’ without realising it.

DO have someone else, preferably someone with an editing background, review your book. If possible, enlist the services of a professional editor to review your work—not just for spelling, punctuation or grammar mistakes, but also for character development and story content. An educated second opinion can raise the quality of your work more than you might expect.

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