The goal for any self-published author is not only write an amazing book, but to create a product that can stand out and endure the critical eye of a traditional system.
Your competition are not only other writers but other publishers too. Naturally then, you want to make sure that what you produce is nothing but as good as you can make it. This article will go through five things you must do to ensure your book looks professionally published.
Print Your Manuscript
You might see this as extra time and a waste of paper, but you would be surprised how many additional mistakes you will be able to find. Printing your manuscript out in paperback format (using a recommended type face) will give you the opportunity to view your book in “real life”.
Reviewing your book this way will allow you to check on things like margins, overall alignment of chapter headings, paragraphs, and words placement (i.e. Are your words getting cut off mid-sentence?). Printing in this format will also get you into mindset of a reader, not a writer. As a reader you will pick up typos, missing words and incorrect word usage than if you were reading off a screen.
Here’s what to look out for:
- Page Numbers
- Chapter Headings: are they positioned in the same place every time and numbered correctly?
- Paragraph indentations: are they consistent?
- Widows and Orphans: single lines at the bottom the page or parts of lines on new pages.
- That all Notes and Comments from Track Changes are gone.
- All Subheadings are formatted correctly and consistently.
- Margins are all the same.
By this stage your manuscript should have already been looked over by your beta readers, but it’s recommended to give them a copy of the completed manuscript once your formatting has been finalized.
This allows you to get one final check-over. It is a far better thing for a trusted beta to spot the mistakes in your final proofs than to release the book into the world for your readers to find: because they will. It can be embarrassing to see reviewers commenting on simple mistakes, and ths can damage your sales.
So make use of your beta readers even in the final stages. The more eyes your work sees, the higher change that any remaining errors, whether grammatical or in your typesetting, will be spotted and corrected.
A blurb is your back cover description. A snippet of story line to get your reader interested. It’s an industry standard that blurbs are 100–180 words in length, so be mindful of how much you are revealing.
Remember, a blurb is not a synopsis. You want to briefly introduce your protagonist and some of what they must overcome. You don’t want to give away the entire plot, nor introduce too many characters. For practice, go to your bookshelves and read the back covers of your favorite books. Try to see how they sparked your interest enough to make the purchase.
Remember Blurbs need:
- Length: 100–180 words
- Protagonist: ntroduce them, and create an attachment
- Tone: this should be the same as in your novel
For more details read our blog on writing the perfect blurb.
Tagline or Testimonial
Finding a suitable tagline can take some brainstorming but it’s worth taking the time to get it right. Your tagline is your ‘hook’ to intrigue people enough to pick your book up and read your blurb.
A testimonial from an author in the same genre as you can also help. It is their stamp of approval and if you’re lucky enough to have such an author interested in your work, you want their praise on the front of your book for all to see. This can help legitimize your work and draw their fan base to yours.
Matte Vs Gloss Covers
There are many schools of thought when it comes to choosing a matte or gloss cover for your final paperback.
Some writers think that gloss paperbacks have a cheap mass market look about them. But depending on your cover design, gloss can actually bring out richer colors in dark designs and reveal more intricate details in the illustration work. Gloss tends to be favorite for non-fiction works as it can enhance cover photographs and is less likely to be handled as much as a paperback.
Matte covers, on the other hand, provide an aesthetic quality and durability to paperbacks. These covers are less likely to peel if handled extensively and won’t show up fingerprints and scratches.
It’s worth noting, however, that fine illustration work can be hidden and colors won’t be as vibrant with matte covers. Be sure to speak to your designer about your preference so they can adjust the colors accordingly.
Matte covers can compliment the art and provide an added bonus of the sensory experience to book buyers who like soft covers. Once again, it comes down to the personal preference of you, the publisher, but it it’s important to research what is popular in your genre and choose what will compliment your design work.
What Else Can You Do?
As a writer it’s your job to create an intriguing story with memorable characters that readers will enjoy. But as a publisher, it’s as equally important for you to provide the best possible, market-standard product for your potential buyers.
Having a well crafted blurb and an effective tagline or testimonial can hook readers into wanting to read more. Printing your formatted interior before finally choosing effective covers will ensure your book looks great and will appear to both booksellers and customers alike.
What else do you think should be included to ensure a book looks at home sat along side a traditionally published book?