As a book publishing industry veteran who works almost exclusively with self-publishing author-entrepreneurs, it’s no surprise that I am a big advocate of self-publishing (particularly for entrepreneurs). The process can be fairly straightforward, but if you don’t do some research and make a solid plan, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are solutions to the top-five mistakes I see author-entrepreneurs make when self-publishing.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the cover.
Of course your book’s content matters — but your cover is the first impression. Here are a few tips from my friend and cover designer Jessica Freeman of Jess Creatives for your book’s cover design:
Find the balance between following trends and doing your own thing.
Think about both print and online.
Design for your audience.
Make (and stick to) a budget.
You can self-publish a book without spending more than a couple hundred dollars, or you can spend tens of thousands — and everything in between. There’s no right amount when it comes to what you should spend, and I admit it’s easy to get carried away and try #allthethings. Rather than tossing spaghetti at a wall to see what sticks, create a budget for productions costs (editing, design, formatting) as well as marketing — and then stick to that. (Remember that book marketing is a long game, so you can always adjust your budget to include new marketing ideas after publication.)
Use keywords well.
Remember that your book must be find-able by people other than your biz besties and your parents. They know your name. They know your book title. They can find it. Other people don’t. Those people can’t find it. This is where keywords come in. Make sure you use keywords in your book title — and especially your subtitle. Take a look at your book marketing analysis and see what other titles show up on Amazon as “also boughts.” What keywords are in those titles and subtitles? What auto-populates in Amazon and Google when you start to type in your topic?
"Make sure you use keywords in your book title — and especially your subtitle." - @jodibrandon
Don’t skip proofreading.
As someone who makes her living as a book editor, I encourage every author-entrepreneur to invest in editing. I know that’s not always going to happen, though. In those cases, I implore people to at least hire a proofreader for a last look before you hit “upload” or “publish.” Will a typo or two turn people off? Probably not. But multiple typos can. A proofreader will look at other things, too, like whether chapters start on the page the table of contents indicates. These small details go a long way in ensuring your book is as professional as possible.
Make the best use of Amazon.
The backlash against publishing with Amazon is real, folks. I get it. In many ways I, too, think Amazon is getting a bit too big of an ego. The flip side, though, is that Amazon is...well...Amazon. It’s where people go to open their wallets, particularly for books and ebooks. Don’t just list your book and call it a day. Make use of Amazon Author Central. Use your author page to the fullest extent. This is for the same reason keywords are important: to help people find you who don’t already know you. If someone comes across your book, they may not leave Amazon to check out your website (at least not right away), but they certainly might check out your author page. If it’s incomplete, that won’t necessarily inspire confidence in potential readers that you’re a trusted expert to whose book they should purchase. Make it easy for people to see you as an expert and want to buy your book!
Do you have any questions about self-publishing a book to serve your business? Let me know in the comments.