6 Self-Publishing Don’ts

Unfortunately, some people have a negative perception of self publishing. This is because some self-publishing authors make detrimental mistakes that prevent their books from being taken seriously. If you want to be seen as a professional author with a successful book, be sure to avoid these six self-publishing don’ts:

1. Don’t attempt to create print-ready files if you don’t already possess that particular skill set.

You’re a writer; not a book designer.  Leave this task to the professionals and focus your time on writing and promoting your book.

2. Don’t skip the professional copyediting.

No matter how great of a writer you are, you cannot edit your own work! It is too easy to miss mistakes because you are too familiar with your work. This task requires a professional.  It is worth paying for professional editing services .

3. Don’t skip the custom cover design.

Most readers judge a book by its cover, so having an eye-catching, quality cover that professionally represents your book is essential. Most template covers will look and feel like a cookie cutter design, even if you make small changes to it.  Invest in a professionally designed, dynamic custom cover unique to your book.

4. Don’t forget the back cover text.

Once you are ready to self-publish your book,  one of the first things you’ll be asked for is your back cover synopsis and author biography. Don’t just throw something together without much thought!  Readers will look at this and determine whether or not they should buy your book.

5. Don’t rush.

Sure, you are excited to self-publish your book, but don’t rush. Producing a quality book  takes time. Be patient now, and you will be glad you did once you have a book to be proud of.

6. Don’t give up.

Some authors get so overwhelmed by all the options available to them when choosing a self-publishing company that they just give up. That doesn’t have to be you. Do your research, spend some time thinking about the decision, and then trust your gut. Don’t let fear stop you.

There are many great self publishing success stories! You can be one of them by avoiding these mistakes.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Professional Copyediting is a Self-Publishing Must-Do

Many authors ask me questions like “Do I really need to hire an editor?” and “I had my friend who is an English teacher read it. That counts as editing, right?” While having friends, family, colleagues, and even your writing group is a great way to get feedback on your manuscript, it does not replace the need for a professional copyedit.

Many services offered by self-publishing companies could be considered optional depending on your goals and personal skills. Copyediting is not one of those services I consider “optional;” authors who want their work to polished and professional must hire a professional copyeditor.

So how is a copyedit different than having trusted friends and family read your book?

1) Copyediting requires special skills.

Even friends who are writers or teachers probably don’t have the training necessary to perform a quality edit. (Unless you happen to be friends with a copyeditor.) Copyediting is different than proofreading. The copyeditor doesn’t just look for obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. He or she also corrects style issues, picks up on inconsistencies, and corrects less obvious mistakes.

2) They can look at your work objectively.

Writers who self-edit their work often miss mistakes and inconsistencies because they are too attached to the story. They know what they are saying, so they don’t read through the eyes of a reader who doesn’t know the story. Similarly, friends and family may be afraid of hurting your feelings or be to proud of your work to review it objectively. Copyeditors don’t have a personal attachment to your story and review the manuscript as a professional rather than a friend.

Before you hire a copyeditor, it important to remember these tips:

  • Proofread and spell-check your work before sending it to an editor.
  • Remember that editors are human and many work with about a 5% margin of error.
  • There are different levels of editing intensity: basic, moderate, and extensive. (Basic copyediting typically catches about 70% of errors in a manuscript.)
  • As a self-publishing author, don’t focus on what the editor didn’t find, but rather what was found.
  • Review your manuscript again after you receive it from the editor to check for errors they may have missed.

While copyediting won’t make your book flawless, it will substantially increase the quality and professionalism of your book.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing: 10 Things You Need to Know

If you are new to self-publishing, it can seem a little overwhelming at first, but there are plenty of great resources to help you decide if self-publishing is right for you and to answer all your questions on hot topics such as copyediting, copyrights, and book formatting. Below is a list of 10 must read articles for self-publishing authors. Each gives you helpful information to ensure you have a great self-publishing experience.

1. 4 Reasons to Fall in Love with Self-Publishing

Not only is self-publishing a huge trend among first time authors, but it is also becoming increasingly common for writers who previously used traditional publisher (and had great success) to switch to self-publishing. This article discusses the top four reasons why writers love self-publishing.

2. The Cost of Self-Publishing

The cost of self-publishing is a common question, and concern, for many writers. This article provides an honest look at the cost of publishing your book.

3. 5 Self-Publishing Mistakes You Can Avoid

Sometimes self-publishing gets a bad rep because of the amateur mistakes some authors make. This post will help you avoid those mistakes so you can be seen as a professional and your book can be taken seriously by readers and the publishing industry.

4. What is an ISBN?

This article explains what an ISBN is, if you need one, and how to get one.

5. Paperback vs. Hardcover: Which is Better?

This post discusses the pros and cons of paperback and hardcover books. It will help you decide which cover is best for your project.

6. Should You Create Your Own Cover?

A great book cover can significantly impact your book’s success. This article breaks down the pros and cons of creating your own book cover or hiring a graphic artist.

7. The Importance of a Compelling Back Cover Synopsis

The back cover of your book is also important. This article explains the importance of a compelling back cover synopsis and provides tips on creating one.

8. Copyediting 101

This article explains how copyediting is different from proofreading and why it is a good idea to consider hiring a professional copyeditor.

9. Top 7 Book Formatting Questions for Self Publishing Authors

One of the most popular topics I receive questions on is book formatting. This article tells you what you need to know.

10. Top 6 Self-Publishing Copyright Questions

Copyright is another hot topic among authors. This great article answers the most common questions, such as what is the fair use law and how do I know if something is copyright protected.

I’d love to know, what other questions do you have about self-publishing?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

The Cost of Self Publishing

In trying to contemplate the “most asked” question by authors considering self publishing, it is difficult to narrow it down to just one question.  There are several questions that self publishing authors frequently ask. Since I only want to focus on one question in this blog post, I decided to address the common question, “How much will it cost me to self publish my book?” (Don’t worry, I’ll address the other common questions in future posts.)

Authors considering self publishing often want to know how much it will cost to publish their book. My first response: That’s a loaded question.  The answer varies greatly based on the goals and budget of each individual author.

While there is no one size fits all price for self publishing, there is some information that all authors considering self publishing should know before figuring out how much their self publishing project is going to cost:

1) It’s an investment.

You can’t think about the money you will spend on self publishing your book simply as an expense. Instead, think of it as an investment. By putting money into your project, you are creating a book that has a value and will earn a profit. Unless your goal isn’t to make money off the book (yes, some authors have goals other than earning a profit), you need to think like a business person and remember the cliché, “To make money, you must spend money.”

2) Think about what you are getting.

Rather than focusing just on the numbers, you need to think about what the money you are spending will get you. For instance, paying for a customized cover is getting you a unique cover design that will help draw readers to your book and will literally be the face of your project. After all, research shows that readers decide within eight seconds whether or not to purchase a book. Similarly, paying a copy editor will get you a clean, professional manuscript. If there is one service that I suggest all self publishing authors invest in, it is editing!

3) Plan to make a profit.

Many self publishing authors focus on how much is this going to cost them now, instead of thinking how this can make them money in the future. If your goal is to make a profit from your book, you need to create a solid marketing plan. Think of your book as a business. Would you start a business and then not advertise it?  Of course not!  So why would you publish a book and then not market and promote it?   So when you create your self publishing budget, you need to factor in the cost of marketing and promoting your book.

That said… 

In my years of experience in this industry, I would say the average cost range to self publish a marketable book is $2,500-$3,500.  This allows roughly $1,500 for a good publishing package with a custom cover design, plus $500-$1,000 for professional copyediting, plus $500-$1,500 for marketing services.  You will likely spend more on marketing and promoting the book down the road, but this provides a good snapshot of the upfront expenses.

Like I said, there is no one size fits all price. Some authors will spend more than others. The key is to look at your goals, needs, and plans when creating your budget, and don’t forget to consider the value of the investment you are making. Remember, you can’t make money, if you don’t spend money.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Character Development Tips for Fiction Writers

Back in November 2012 I participated in NaNoWriMo.  As a first time fiction writer, one of the things I found the hardest was keeping character traits straight in my head. Did he have red or brown hair? Was he short or tall? As I was working through this problem, I developed some tricks to help me keep all those important character traits straight. Here are my favorites:

1. Let someone inspire you.

Even if you are writing fiction, you can use people in your real life as inspiration. Picture someone you know or see and base your character on that person. Not only is this a good way to generate ideas and help you remember your character descriptions, it is also a great way to ensure your characters are realistic because you will be describing someone you’ve actually seen or met.

2. Keep a list of character traits.

Even if you think you know your characters well, it is hard to remember all of the details once you are well into writing your book. To avoid messing up descriptions half way through the book, keep a list of all the character traits. You can format this however is most convenient for you. Perhaps create a table with headings such as physical characteristics and personality traits. The key is to keep the list updated and to review it often while you write and edit your book.

3. Plan ahead.

Some people let their characters develop as they write the story, but if remembering character traits is an issue for you, it may be beneficial to create your characters ahead of time. Before you begin writing, envision your characters. Imagine you are interviewing them and write down everything they would tell you and you would observe. What do they look like? Where do they live? What is their temperament? What are their motivators? Their fears? Their strengths? The more you figure out ahead of time, the easier it will be to write about them as they come into your story. Be sure to keep all this information in a safe, organized place that you can reference often.

4. Double and triple check your work.

As you write your book, your character may begin to take on a different personality than you expected or you may decide different characteristics are more suiting for certain characters. It is okay to change things, and you don’t have to be glued to your list of character traits as you write. You do, however, have to make sure everything is consistent before you self-publish your book. While you are revising your manuscript, read through it while focusing on character traits. You should also have at least one other person review your manuscript because he or she will often catch subtleties you missed.

5. Hire help.

If character traits is a struggle for you, a developmental editor may be able to help. Unlike copyeditors who review your manuscript for grammar and style issues, developmental editors look for consistency and structural elements such as character development and realistic dialogue. They can point out errors in your manuscript where you made mistakes and offer advice on improving your characters.

I’d love to know, what do you do to help you remember your characters’ traits?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

5 Self Publishing Mistakes You Can Avoid

Unfortunately, some people have a negative perception of self publishing. This is because some self publishing authors make detrimental mistakes that prevent their books from being taken seriously. If you want to be seen as a professional author with a successful book, be sure to avoid these five self publishing mistakes:

1)Doing the interior yourself –  You’re a writer; not a book designer.  Leave this task to the professionals and focus your time on writing and promoting your book.

2)Using a template cover –  Most readers judge a book by its cover, so having an eye-catching, quality cover that professionally represents your book is essential. Most template covers will look and feel like a cookie cutter design, even if you make small changes to it.  Invest in a professionally designed, dynamic custom cover unique to your book.

3)Editing the book yourself – No matter how great of a writer you are, you cannot edit your own work! It is too easy to miss mistakes because you are too familiar with your work. This task requires a professional.  Pay for top-notch editing services – this means using a professional editor and not your sister-in-law or next door neighbor.

4)Skipping the back cover –  Once you are ready to self publish your book,  one of the first things you’ll be asked for is your back cover synopsis and author biography. Don’t just throw something together without much thought!  Readers will look at this and determine whether or not they should buy your book.

5)Rushing – Sure, you are anxious to self publish your book, but don’t rush. Producing a quality book (one with a great cover and copyedited pages) takes time. Be patient now, and you will be glad you did once you have a book to be proud of.

There are many great self publishing success stories! You can be one of them by avoiding these mistakes.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Spooky Self Publishing Statistics

Happy Halloween everyone! In honor of this spooky holiday, I want to share some self-publishing and industry statistics that may shock you. Don’t be afraid; just keep reading.

  • According to an Aptara survey, the trade publishing market segment (which includes fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, and adults) has considerably increased its e-book output. The e-book production rate went from 50% to 76% during the last two years.
  • Amazon still generates the highest number of sales for trade publishers, according to Aptara.
  • According to BookStats 2012, Religion and Children’s/Young Adults showed strong growth while Children’s/YA ranked as the fastest-growing category in publishing in 2011.
  • Brick-and-mortar retail remains the #1 sales distribution channel for publishers in 2011, as it did in 2010, according to BookStats 2012.
  • According to Bowker, traditional print book output grew six percent in 2011, from 328,259 titles in 2010 to a projected 347,178 in 2011, driven almost exclusively by a strong self-publishing market.
  • According to a self-publishing resource on top earners, two-thirds of top self-publishing earners are women.
  • The average top earner spends 69% more time writing than the average author not categorized as a top earner.
  • Self-publishing authors who paid professionals for services like story-editing, copyediting and proofreading earned an average of 13% more than those who didn’t.
  • Hiring a professional cover designer earned top earners an average of 18% more.
  • Top earners had almost four times as many reviews for their most recent book than authors outside of the group.

Being knowledgable of book industry and self-publishing trends and statistics can help you make important decisions as a self-publishing author. For instance, these statistics show the value of hiring professionals such as copyeditors, receiving book reviews, offering your book in multiple formats and taking advantage of Amazon’s author services. The best way to become a successful self-publishing author is to learn from the success of those who have already succeeded.

I’d love to know, do these statistics impact your plans as a self-publishing author?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.