If you’re thinking about taking the leap into the self-publishing abyss, then you should definitely read these top tips before you jump.
Self-publishing can be remarkably profitable, but with more and more authors publishing to online platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes and Nobel’s PubIt! and independent platforms like Lulu.com and Smashwords, the competition is unbelievably fierce.
Self-editing and formatting has never been more important. Traditionally authors didn’t have to do their own editing and formatting work. That’s what publishers were for. But with self-publishing on the rise, and budgets stretched to the max, writers are not so willing to employ the services of others to do their literary housekeeping for them.
A shoddily presented book can destroy your revenue stream before it’s even begun to flow. Likewise, a badly edited or incorrectly formatted book can wreak horror on the reader’s experience. Bad reviews will not make you millions of dollars in sales.
So here are my top tips for publishing online.
Cover Design – Make sure your book cover is eye-catching, but not overwhelming. Remember it’s got to look good as a thumbnail. That’s the small size it gets reduced to in your product description page. Initial click-through rates to your book page is based on the visibility and attractiveness of your thumbnail image. Read my post on how to create a killer cover image.
Layout – A well laid out manuscript is easier to read, works better on digital readers, and less inclined to give your reader a headache. Pay attention to line spacing when formatting your Word document. Use only a single return between paragraphs, as adding extra lines will cause very large spaces between paragraphs. If you need to increase the space between paragraphs, use the Word paragraph tool to increase the spaces without creating excessive space. Adding extra lines will cause very large spaces between paragraphs.
Indents – To indent your paragraphs, don’t use the Tab key to create the indents. It is better to set up a first line indent using the Word Paragraph tool.
New chapters – To start a new chapter on a new page (recommended), use the use the Section Break option from within the Page Setup option. Do not insert a Page Break – they are ignored in the ePub manuscript conversion process.
Fonts – Only use Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New.
Symbols – Avoid the use of symbols in your text. They don’t translate into ePub format.
Checking formatting – Check your manuscript thoroughly using one of the downloadable format checkers offered by Amazon.com KDP or B&N. Like this handy ePub Check Tool. These e-readers enable you to suss out mistakes before you book is uploaded and goes live. Check chapters, paragraph spacing, line breaks, tabs and all of the factors we’ve just mentioned. Then check them again!
Editing – Ensure your manuscript is well edited. I would recommend using a professional editor or proof reader to get rid of most of your more obvious grammatical and spelling errors. Word’s spell check only goes so far. Budget for this.
Pricing – Every publishing platform has different pricing guidelines, and depending on your price you can receive anything from 35% to 75%. So it really pays to read the guidelines before you start. Pricing your novel correctly can mean the difference between bulk unit sales and a sprinkling of interest. Another good idea is to see how similar authors are pricing their books, especially the ones in the best seller lists.
For more information, refer to the help files on the various platforms. They are tremendously useful and well written.