Today’s publishing industry is a foggy highway with a 50-car pileup. The rise of self-publishing, while giving authors incredible freedom, has glutted the market with a ton of, to be quite honest, inferior content. It’s weird to say this, but one of the advantages of the old traditional publishing system is that it served as a filter. Once you jumped through the hoops of queries, agents, etc, your book was generally (I know there were exceptions!) a polished final product, one that editors, formatters, cover designers had all contributed to.
Today, an author can type their manuscript in Word, upload directly to vendors, design their own cover in PhotoShop, and skip the editing process altogether. Authors have become jacks of many trades, when they should ideally be master of one… writing! There are no gatekeepers. There are no obstacles. So, you, the new self-publisher, need some way to distinguish yourself from the teeming masses of new releases. Hopefully, once people read your work, the quality of your story will set you apart, but how do you get people to choose your book in the first place, with so much competition to wade through?
First, and most importantly, you need to invest in a quality cover. Maybe you have an artistic eye, maybe you’re a PhotoShop wizard. More than likely though, a professional graphic designer is the best choice for you. Making this commitment will pay for itself by sheer virtue of making your book stand out amongst an increasingly crowded digital bookshelf.
Second, hire an editor, or at the very least, have a group of trusted beta readers that will iron out your grammatical readers. I am NOT an editor, but I can’t count the number of times that I’ve made grammar corrections to a manuscript I was formatting. It is nearly impossible for an author to edit his/her own book. You’re too familiar with it.
Finally, (and this is where I come in!) formatting is integral to the presentation of your final product. Earlier, I mentioned that you can upload a .doc file directly to most of the major vendors. This is true, but you lose a ton of customization options that way. Building an EPUB from scratch allows for custom fonts, chapter headings with graphics, custom scene breaks, drop caps, and a myriad of other options that can really make your book’s interior shine. Readers notice these things… take a stroll through some Amazon reviews of some self-published books. People can be brutal when it comes to a poorly formatted and poorly edited book.
As always, I stand ready to make your manuscript beautiful and easily navigable. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Everything But The Book