The stigma of self-publishing will diminish as more authors take their role as publishers seriously and hire professionals for design, editing and marketing. Authors will become sharper in these areas through working with specialists, but aren’t likely to gain the level of expertise it took these professionals many years to achieve.
Here are some tips for making your book look as good as any traditionally published book. The first role, of course, is yours – write a book that has value and contributes to people’s lives. This makes everyone’s job much easier!
1. Editing: A copy editor will have a significant impact on your book. Typically you’ll find an editor through referrals – make sure to choose one who has experience in and reads your genre. Be sure you like and feel comfortable with him or her…you’ll be spending a lot of time together. Be clear on costs, budget and timeline.
Good editors are usually busy with multiple projects, so agreeing on a schedule is critical. Be available during the editing process. Don’t expect an editor to read your mind and deliver a perfectly edited manuscript without significant input from you – it’s a collaborative process and your involvement is essential.
Once your manuscript is thoroughly copy edited and proof read, it’s ready for cover design.
2. Cover Design: Look at online portfolios of a number of book designers. Choose a few whose work impresses you and who have experience designing covers in your genre. Here you have the advantage of getting feedback from other authors.
Your designer will read or skim your book and provide three or more cover designs intended to capture the heart of your story. Market-test the covers with friends or on Facebook, etc. Then go through a refinement process with your designer until you get it just right. The cover should be strong and readable on both a printed book and as a small thumbnail.
The book title is important! Please don’t get stuck on your “working title” no matter how much you may love it. Start fresh. Ask your editor, designer and friends for help with title ideas, then come up with at least five titles to send around to friends for input.
The best outcome will be a book title that reflects a key theme of the book, is memorable, fun or at least easy to say, contains keywords, and gives the cover designer evocative words to work with. Fiction writers generally want 2-4 word titles. Non-fiction titles have no real limits, and keywords are especially important in non-fiction, both in the title and subtitle.
3. Marketing: You’ll do much of this yourself, but do hire a book marketing expert with social media experience to develop a game plan and show you the ropes. The basics are a website, blog, Facebook page, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, audio and video interviews, and online publishing platforms.
This is your team! Their talents and experience will help you launch your book with pleasure and pride.