Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Seasonal Gift for All Self-Publishing Authors

Hi All,
I thought it would be nice to share all the bits of wisdom I have picked up over the last five years of self-publishing.  There are many pitfalls with all the parasitic services available to separate the writer from his money.  I have compiled a list of the things that need to be done to present a professional quality product to the public.

You've finished your book and now you're ready to be the next hot author and sell a million copies.
They never told you that writing the book is the easy part.
There are three things that you absolutely need to have done where you cannot spare expenses.
I will provide links to different resources at the end of this blog post.

1) You absolutely must have your work edited and proofed professionally.

This will be the biggest expense for your book.  Editing rates vary wildly, usually for $.01 to $.05 a word.
This is also the area where it's easiest to get screwed by some self-appointed editor who doesn't even have a degree in English.  There are literally hundreds of websites offering editing services.  I rate these from fantastic to rip-off.  If you have a social presence on facebook or goodreads, find some friends who are very happy with editing services they have had done.  Try to not use someone who has not been recommended by friends or who you know nothing about.  I am lucky enough to know an excellent free-lance editor who I trust to do a thorough job. Your number one biggest priority as a writer is to find a reliable editor and proofreader.  Nothing will make a bigger difference in the quality of your work.
Try not to pay for editing in advance and carefully check the work.  Some editors will only make changes that make your work grammatically correct, others think they have free reign to cut whole chapters and sentences and change elements around altering the entire story.  Be sure you keep a copy of the original to compare the edited version.  Editors need to be watched closely to insure quality work with minimum changes to your story.

2) Get a professional cover.

You can't tell a book by its cover but you can sell books with great covers.  This is an area where there are a few thing that you must insist on.
First of course is any images and/or art work must not be copyrighted.  If it is, you need written proof granting you the rights to use the image. Get an email from the artist/photographer and print it for your records.
Second the cover has to work.  Many times the first view I get of a book is a thumbnail of the cover.  It is absolutely essential that both the title and the author name can be read when the cover is thumbnail sized.  The most beautiful cover doesn't work if you can't read it.  Common elements also fuel sales such as the same font used on multiple books.

3) The actual publishing.

You do not have to pay to get your book published although there are literally thousands of companies willing to charge you to do so.  Never use a vanity press where you pay to get hard copies of your book published and shipped to you.  No need.  Publish on a POD (print on demand) site for free.  The same goes for eBooks.
What you do need to pay for is to get the book properly formatted and submitted for both POD and eBook.
I can't count how may books by authors that have paid for publication that either have terrible formatting and/or poor quality images.  Each venue, be it different size paperbacks or hardcovers or formatting for different eReaders, have different requirements for formatting to get the optimum quality for you book.
Most of these publishing venues will provide free of charge ISBN or ASIN numbers for your books.  You do not have to buy one.  You can easily copyright your work, before editing if you worry about your work being stolen through the US government Copyright Office for as little as $35. It will take 6 months to get the official document of copyright but you are protected from the day of submission.

The last and most  distasteful aspect of being an author is the marketing.  In my next post I'll talk about that.

Helpful Links.
Form to copyright your work for $35 through the US Copyright Office.
Print on Demand paperback publishing  with free ISBN at createspace.com.
Print on Demand hardcover publishing with free ISBN at Lulu.com.
Ebook publishing at smashwords.com, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & NobelsKobo.
Book editing service and cover design with free consultations: Byron & Kugler.
Cover design, formatting and publishing.  Complete service from edited manuscript to paperback or hardcover proof in your hands with free consultations:  Richter Indy publishing.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year