Tips for Indie Publishers
The following tips will help self-publishers create and publish a first-rate, beautiful book. And of course, if you have any questions, just contact us at 1106 Design!
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identification number for books and is essential if you plan on selling your book. In the US, the ISBN is available for purchase from Bowker (www.myidentifiers.com). Because each different version of your book (hardcover, softcover, ebook, audio) requires its own ISBN, it’s more cost effective to buy a block of ten. In Canada, ISBNs are free from www.bac-lac.gc.ca
(Click on Popular Services, ISBN).
publishers. By researching and interviewing experts before you hire them, you have a better chance of knowing if you can develop an open and trusting relationship with the people who will ultimately be on your publishing team. Make sure you are comfortable with them, that there is honest two-way communication, and that you have both laid out your expectations of each other. Doing so will give you the freedom to be involved in the project as much or as little as you wish.
There are two providers of print-on-demand services: IngramSpark and CreateSpace. CreateSpace feeds directly into Amazon and is a good option for getting your book on Amazon. Use IngramSpark for the connection to bookstores and a robust international distribution system. You can open accounts directly with CreateSpace and IngramSpark, maximizing your potential profit margin per book. The more people between you and the print-on-demand provider, the more people with whom you must share your profits!
If you look closely at low-cost covers, you’ll see that many of them are the same. The author may have used a template to create the cover him or herself.
When browsing for books online or in a bookstore, potential buyers will decide in nanoseconds whether or not to investigate a book further, and they will base that decision on whether or not they like the book cover! Buyers gravitate to covers that are visually compelling and different from the rest. When one cover looks like another, it’s hard to make yours stand out.
Some self-publishing companies purchase blocks of ISBNs and then offer ISBNs to their customers at a low cost or for free. While this might seem like an economical option, your book’s ISBN will belong to the self-publishing company, making them the publisher and not you. Ownership of an ISBN is not transferable and it can be difficult and expensive to obtain the book files and publish again under your own ISBN.
Just because you bought professional page layout software, don’t assume that you can now lay out text like a pro. While the program includes handy default settings, experienced typesetters rarely use them. They rely on their years of training and experience to adjust settings for better results, sometimes line by line, word by word, or even letter by letter. It’s these tiny adjustments that make the difference between professional and amateur-looking page layout.
Successful page layout invites the reader in and subtly leads the eye from one section to the next. The right fonts, careful spacing, and an attractive arrangement of paragraphs, headings and illustrations work together to make reading a pleasure instead of a chore. An experienced typesetter has the tools to carefully adjust word and letter spacing, along with justification, to give your text an even “color” that’s easy on the eyes and delivers better reading comprehension as a bonus.
Making multiple revisions to an entire book multiple times takes a typesetter many hours. Consolidate your changes into one or two rounds of revisions and you won’t have to deal with “sticker shock” later. Second, add several weeks to your prepress schedule for changes. It’s stressful for everyone and unfair to your typesetter to hold to the original deadline when days or weeks of work have been added to the project due to revisions.
However, it’s a frequent practice grounded in how books used to be produced. Back in “the day,” book publishing followed a standard procedure: The manuscript was edited and proofread multiple times. Only when all the editors, the author, and senior staff signed off on the manuscript did it go into production (typesetting). Typeset “galleys” were produced, meaning, the type was set in long strips of paper, produced by the phototypesetting machines of the era. These galleys were sent to the author, and reviewed yet again by editors and staff. Corrections were made, and only then was the book “pasted up” into pages and sent to the printer. While the procedure sounds archaic now, it did accomplish one major goal: corrections were very rare after the book was paginated. Today, the use of computers and software means that changes can be made whenever and however the author wishes. We are no longer invested in “getting it right” before typesetting because we know changes can be made after typesetting is done. Unfortunately, the opportunity to proof after typesetting is often overlooked, as can be seen in the number of errors that get through to the printed book.
You are the publisher and you have a product to sell: your book. You’ve invested hundreds of hours developing your product and hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars in creating and polishing it, turning it into a product that you know consumers will buy. But you would be surprised how many authors fail to think past this point and end up allowing a self-publishing company to “distribute” the book (with average sales of fifty books) for a chunk of the royalties or who have a stack of book cartons in their garage, unsold. So, even as you write your book, it’s important to think about how you are going to market your book, who you are competing against, what price you are going to charge, and then, how you are going to reach your readers!
Your back cover text should be short, concise and focused, even while transmitting the benefits of reading your book. For nonfiction books, use bullet points to list the benefits— what the reader will get out of the book. If your book is fiction, provide a brief synopsis of the plot, but don’t give away the entire book. Moreover, know your audience and speak directly to them. Remember that the average book buyer will spend only ten seconds reading your back cover, so make sure you get your message across quickly!
If you’re new to the publishing business, how do you know what you need? Before getting a quote from companies, understand what you are purchasing. Ask lots of questions. At 1106 Design, we offer a free download of Michele’s book Publish Like the Pros: A Brief Guide to Quality Self-Publishing. We suggest you read it before you approach companies for quotes. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive your free copy (click in the book cover link in most sidebars on this website).
Obtain a quote upfront so you know your costs. Companies may offer low prices initially, but charges can balloon quickly. And never pay someone to “publish” your book.
At 1106 Design, you’ll always know your costs. We don’t lure you in with low prices, then create “gotchas” after you’ve signed on the dotted line. Our proposals clearly explain what’s included and what’s not so there are no surprises.
Will the company release the final book files to you (the design files, not just the PDF)? Who owns the ISBN? These are important questions to ask in case you ever need to make a change to your book.
At 1106 Design, we never hold your files hostage for additional payment. When the job is complete, we’ll be happy to send you the application files for your job (not just a PDF). In addition, we help you purchase your own ISBN from the original source: Bowker.
Make sure you get honest indie publishing advice. Are you able to speak with a real person? Are they constantly trying to upsell you under the guise of giving advice?
At 1106 Design, we’ll answer all your questions along the way. You’ll talk to real people who fell in love with books a long time ago, not a telemarketer working from a script. We’ll never recommend services that you don’t need. If we don’t know the answer to a question, we’ll reach out to someone who does.
When looking for a company to help you with self-publishing your book, check their website, Facebook page, Twitter, Google reviews…what are people saying about that company?
On our 1106 Design website and Facebook page, you’ll find many 5-star reviews from happy clients. We grow our business through referrals, not advertising.
Some companies compensate for their low fees by taking a percentage of the author’s royalties or profits on every book sold. If the company dictates how much profit or royalty you get per book,
consider it a red flag.
At 1106 Design, you pay us once for the services we provide, and then we’re out of the picture. We provide you with a detailed quote for our services, and we’ll even help you deal directly with IngramSpark and other printers to maximize your profits per book.
There are two ways to format an eBook: automated file conversion and hand coding. When using automated file conversion, the computer makes all the decisions, which can result in formatting errors. Ebook conversion is available everywhere and it’s cheap. Hand coding allows the designer to “correct” for the idiosyncrasies of different reading devices so that the eBook always
displays as well as the technology allows. The designer can also license and embed the same fonts that were used in the print book so that your eBook looks as beautiful as the print edition.
The only time you pay someone else to publish your book is if you pay for services (editing, cover and page design, marketing, etc.) to self-publish your book. Don’t ever give money to a company who insists you must “apply” and then pay them to “publish” your book. This is a scam.
At 1106 Design, you only pay us for the services you receive. The ISBN and publisher imprint belong to you and you keep 100% of YOUR profits.
Authors are often relieved to know that a self-publishing company will take care of the ISBN by “giving” the author one of their own (or are under the illusion they are saving money by doing so).
ISBNs are the unique identifying number for books. They are the property of the publishing company and cannot be sold, given, or transferred to an author. That means the company providing the ISBN to the author still owns the ISBN and is the publisher of record for the book. Should the author ever wish to publish the book under their own name, the author will need to buy an ISBN and reprint the book. An ISBN cannot be reused, even if the book goes out of print.
At 1106 Design, we will help you purchase your own ISBN from Bowker, the only source of ISBNs in the USA, so that the ISBN belongs to you.
Never pay a company to “publish” your book. If the company’s imprint appears on the book, the company is then the publisher (sometimes called “vanity publishing”). Instead, give your company a name, hire the services you need to publish the book yourself, buy your own ISBN, and maximize your profits by arranging for print-on-demand or offset printing yourself.
At 1106 Design, we don’t ”publish” books. We work with authors who want to publish books themselves, maintain control over all elements of the publishing process, and keep 100% of their profits.
How do you recognize publishing scams? Here are a few red flags: Companies that ask you to apply to have your book accepted and then demand money to “publish” your book; promising to publish your book for a cheap price; assuring you of instant success or “3 easy steps”; not providing you with an itemized quote; charging you a low price in return for taking an absurd
percentage of your profits per book. Be sure to research all companies carefully and read their customer reviews.
At 1106 Design, we don’t ”publish” books. We work with authors who want to publish books themselves, maintain control over all elements of the publishing process, and keep 100% of their profits. And we have over a hundred 5-star reviews.
Your “following” is comprised of people who will purchase your book, leave reviews on Amazon, and recommend your book to their friends. They are your book champions! It can take months to build your following, so this is not something you can leave until your book is launched. You should start even as you write your book by establishing your presence on social media and with a basic website to announce your book and build an email list. At 1106 Design, we help you market your book successfully with author websites, eBook flipbooks to give readers a “sneak preview,” and trusted partners for book marketing, traditional book distribution, and bulk sales to special markets, each tailored to your publishing goals.
Make a list of your local media outlets: radio, television, newspapers, and magazines. Note any special shows or segments that you think would be a good fit for your book. Add contact names and
telephone numbers or email addresses. Now, write a pitch letter that tells the media outlet why your book would interest their listeners, viewers, or readers. Let them know how your book would benefit the media outlet. Leave out the parts about how much being featured would mean to you; remember, they want to know what’s in it for them! 1106 Design can help you promote yourself to media outlets with a book promotion press kit and a “ready for media” DVD to round out your pitch.
Book competitions for indie publishers are a great way to promote your book and an opportunity to see how “competition-ready” your book is. After all, if it can’t compete against others in an awards competition, how well will it compete in the marketplace? You can check out your book with others in your genre and measure its cover, page layout and readability against the winners in your category (and take a look at last year’s winners too!). 1106 Design can help make your book a winner with professional cover design, book layout, editing and proofreading.
Visualizing your published book is not enough. As for all projects, you need a plan! Your plan should be to have a PLAN … and get it in writing. Your PLAN should have a beginning and an end. It should have room for flexibility. Your PLAN needs to keep up front WHO the audience is that you are writing for. What’s your plan for producing the book and marketing it? Do you have a plan to reach out to media for publicity? When there isn’t a PLAN, then the PLAN is to not plan. Is that what you want?
(From 101 Publishing Blunders by Judith Briles, www.authoru.org)
There are three kinds of dashes in every type font.
- Hyphens (-) are used to hyphenate words and separate phone numbers.
- Em dashes (—) are a form of punctuation used to offset clauses in a sentence.
- The En (–) dash, typically half the length of an Em dash, is used to denote duration, as in 8:00–5:00.
Serif type is better for long blocks of text. Our minds are trained to recognize the shapes of words rather than reading letter by letter. The serifs form a link between letters, creating a recognizable shape. Bonus Tip: Choose a type size that adds up to 70 characters per line max for easiest reading.
Lines of text that are too close to each other (or too far apart) are difficult to read. Some authors attempt to increase or decrease the page count of a book (i.e., to reduce printing costs) by adjusting the line spacing. Some advice: Please don’t try to fool people by adding or deleting so much line spacing that it looks silly.