One of the biggest hurdles for people new to the concept of self-publishing is a feeling that is somehow an inferior option to going the traditional route.
Part of this is down to prestige and status. It’s true that, for the time being, signing a major book deal is likely to go down better with your family and friends than opting for the indie route.
But that’s just vanity.
Are there any real reasons to be weary of self-publishing as opposed to its traditional sibling?
A lot of authors will bring up the quality of self-published books. You only need to carry out a quick google search to see some really terrible examples of appalling covers or utterly bizarre book titles.
However, it’s easy to cherrypick the worst examples to prove a point.
In truth, self-published books can look every bit as good as their traditional counterparts.
Read on to discover how to ensure you have a top-quality indie book that you’re proud to have your name on.
Do self-published books have a bad reputation?
There’s no point in pretending that, among certain groups of people, self-publishing has a bad reputation.
This is often down to one of two reasons.
First, many people wrongly conflate self-publishing with vanity publishing. In actual fact, they are far from the same thing and shouldn’t be confused. Vanity publishing is a quick way to get ripped off while self-publishing is a sensible career move for most authors.
Second, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, many people have seen the worst examples of indie books and wrongly assume all of them are like that.
Like everything else related to being an independent author, the quality of your self-published book is entirely down to you.
If you’re new, you might be confused about the most important aspects to focus on.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Let’s explore the essential elements of a quality self-published book.
What are some areas you can’t afford to overlook?
Learning to self-publish for the first time can be truly overwhelming. There are so many decisions to make and things to take care of. That’s only to be expected! As indie authors, we receive a far higher royalty rate than traditionally-published authors. Naturally, that entails a greater level of responsibility.
But of all the many factors you could choose to focus your financial resources and energy on, which are the most important for ensuring your book is top-quality?
In our opinion, the following four factors should never be overlooked.
One of the most jarring things about a bad self-published book is the total lack of editing.
It’s almost like authors finish writing their draft and decide to throw in the towel. The thought of editing of any kind is simply too much to cope with so they throw up their first draft and hit publish.
Despite this temptation, there’s no avoiding it – a lack of editing is one of the fastest ways to look like an amateur and ensure a reader never wants to read another word you’ve written.
Thankfully, editing has never been more accessible.
You can tap into quality networks of editors of all types online, using marketplaces such as UpWork or specialist listings on writing websites. This is a great way to find an editor who meets your requirements and fits your budget.
It’s also worth asking around for word of mouth feedback from other authors you trust. Ideally, their book should be as similar to yours as possible. It’s far more likely an author will be able to produce a quality result on the same type of material.
At the very least, authors should make use of some of the self-editing options out there. These come in all shapes and sizes, from simple spelling and grammar tools through to advanced AI-powered options that are able to analyze your story structure, pacing, and even emotional cadence.
Don’t skimp on editing. Why go to all the trouble of writing a book only to put people off reading it? Good editing eventually pays for itself.
Book cover design
The most glaring example of a low-quality self-published book is one which has an atrocious book cover.
It’s a fact of life that readers are only likely to stop and check out your book if your cover sends the right signals, both on quality and subject matter.
If you have the budget available, nothing beats working with a talented book cover designer to create a custom cover of your exact specification. However, this is the most costly option available.
A great second choice is to buy a premade book cover. This option ensures you will have something that looks great for an affordable price. Many authors actually remark that the custom covers they purchase are just as good, if not better than, the covers created for them.
Finally, if you’re artistically talented and have the time, you could consider using a book cover template to come up with your own design. If you go this route, don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Stick to conventions with regards to color, imagery, and font choice to ensure book browsers know what they are in store for if they check out your book.
A bad book cover is the fastest way to ensure no one ever even looks at your book. Give it the attractive packaging it deserves!
Formatting is another aspect of book production that people typically are cautious about when it comes to publishing independently.
This issue is amplified by the fact that many people will release their books in a variety of formats, such as print on demand paperback and different types of ebook to meet different online store requirements.
The best option here is to hire a professional book formatter to handle your manuscript and make sure it’s laid our correctly and is pleasing to the eye.
Another route is to choose a book formatting software that allows you to clearly preview the final output for every file type you wish to publish. Just make sure you have the time to learn and use the software correctly. Often, paying someone to do it for you is a wise investment in terms of the hours you save.
Finally, let’s consider an area of self-publishing quality not directly related to your book itself. We’re talking about your author platform.
At the start of your indie author career, you’re likely to be unknown to the vast majority of potential book buyers. If someone’s on the fence about buying your book, and searches for you online, what kind of impression do you want to give?
A simple but professional-looking author website is a great investment. Many authors are present on social media as well, but don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s better to stick to one social platform you are able to work on regularly in order to ensure people get a good impression when checking you out.
Are you committed to publishing a top-quality book?
So, there you have it!
To recap, the four keys to ensuring a top-quality self-published book are:
- The highest level of book editing your budget allows for
- An attractive and appropriate book cover for your genre or topic
- A cleanly and clearly formatted book, both in print and digital
- A professional author platform, whether your own website or social platform
These aspects might sound insignificant, but rightly or wrongly, they can make or break your book’s success.
Don’t do your hard work an injustice. Nail the above elements and give your readers the top-quality experience they deserve.