5 rules for better book publishing

successThere is no guarantee for success in the publishing business, but these five rules will definitely help you make a difference. Follow these rules and I promise you, your book will be better prepared to become the next global publishing success.

1. Write a good story

Yes, it sounds lame but when your book is bad no amount of publishing skills can turn it into a good book. An editor can take out the inconsistencies and the discrepancies and of course all the spelling and grammar mistakes. But a badly written book is just that… and most likely won’t sell (much).

If you’re not sure about the quality of your book – ask for feedback. Ideally from somebody other than your mother or spouse!

Do you have somebody in your network that likes to read and isn’t afraid to give you honest (and constructive) feedback? Great – ask that person. Perhaps your kids English teacher? Or the library assistant? Alternatively, you may hire a freelancer to go through your book and give feedback.

Sign up for writers groups and ask feedback from other writers and authors – they will be more than happy to give you their ideas and comments.

Once you have a good feeling about the quality of your book you’re ready to take the step to publish. Don’t be afraid to stop writing or to pause your project and to move on to something else for a while. Sometimes you have to step back to get a better view of the full picture.

There are many authors who paused their first project because they couldn’t find their “voice”. No matter what they did, words just came out wrong. After they finished another project they went back to the first one and knew exactly what to do. Time does wonders for the creative process. Don’t be afraid to use it to your advantage.

2. Have an awesome cover

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: People judge a book by its cover! Get a professional graphic designer with book cover experience to make your cover.

Also keep in mind that different distribution channels require different cover files. This is especially true for Print on Demand books as each printer has slightly different settings, so the cover file needs to be a different size.

Whatever you do, make sure that any images that you use are owned by you (i.e. you paid for them and you are allowed to use them on a commercial product) and that they are saved as 300dpi CMYK.

When you use a freelance designer, ask for the original files as your publisher may need to make some changes and it is cheaper/helpful when they can work with the original designs.

3. Use a professional layout

Your publisher will have recommendations for the internal layout of your book, including margin size, font type and font size and the overall stylistic design of the text component of your book.

If you’re flying solo, at the very least you need to make decisions on the following:

Font type – stick with fonts that you own or are free. If you’re choosing to go with a special font make sure you own the rights to use it. Also, Comic Sans is almost always a bad idea! Don’t use too many fonts, keep it simple and easy to read. The last thing you want to do is confuse your reader.

Margins – do you want all margins to be the same size, or do you prefer the gutter margins to be slightly larger than your outside margins? Also keep in mind where the headers / footers fit (if you have any) and where the page numbers are placed on your page.

Illustrations – how are they placed on the page? Do you own the images? Do you need to credit the photographer? Always make sure the images look good in both colour and Black&white and are at least 300dpi CMYK as this gives the best print results.

Paragraph setup – What are the styles you’ve chosen for your book? How do you enter empty lines between paragraphs? If you don’t use styles you’ll get into a lot of trouble once you try to convert your book from print to eBook.

4. Have your book available… worldwide.

Nothing is more frustrating to hear about a book somewhere, only to find out it isn’t available in your country or for your device. Here you are: money in hand, ready to give it to the shop (and to the author) only… they can’t help you!

The worst thing you can do as an author is to restrict the availability of your book. Unless you want to keep it exclusive and want to control who reads your book – but that has to be a conscious decision.

Bookstores are both physical and online. If your book is only available in physical stores, you can easily restrict the distribution to a geographical area. With internet sales however, why would you want to place this restriction on the sales of your book? Geographical restriction is not necessary anymore, especially when you use Print on Demand for your book.

Like I said in an earlier article, not everybody buys their books at amazon.com and not everybody uses a Kindle device to read their eBooks. Make sure your book is available in every country and on every device. This is not difficult to do and at least gives people the satisfaction of giving you some money in exchange for your book.

5. The one sanity saving secret for authors that nobody ever tells you…

People are herd animals – ever noticed that nobody goes to the cafe that is empty? And that everybody avoids the one shop in the street that has no customers? This may be a reflection of the quality of their products and services… but not necessarily. People have a tendency to follow crowds. If it has a lot of clients already, then it must be good!

For this reason it’s important you have reviews online about your book. Testimonials on your website from readers are a great way to give other readers the confidence to start reading your latest novel.

However – the other behaviour people show is that when they think they are invisible / anonymous, they would just about say anything without any consideration to the other person. You only have to look at the many articles about YELP! reviews to understand what I mean. People write things in reviews that they would never say out loud – let alone to you in person.

Although it is super difficult, the best word of advice I can give you is this:

Grow a thick skin! Or dress in super slick clothing so everything simply slides off you.

When your book is seen by people, it WILL attract negative reviews. Although it is difficult you have to keep in mind that  the 1* and 2** reviews may not be a true reflection of the quality of your book, rather a sign of the true identity of the person who wrote the review.

OK – some books are bad and genuinely deserve a bad review. Your book will not be for everybody – they may not like your genre, or they are clearly not your target audience – this happens. Just think to yourself that everybody is entitled to their opinion. You may not share their opinion though – but that’s en entirely different story! (After all – if you were convinced your book is bad you wouldn’t have published it, right?!)

To make you feel better about 1* and 2** reviews it might help to put it in perspective by looking at some of the books written by your favourite author:

For example – most people would agree that John Grisham is a pretty established author and that his books are generally well received. However, 21% of the reviewers of his book “Gray Mountain” score it with a 1* or 2** review.

I’m sure that these five rules will help you to get your book published in a better way. While you can go through this process solo, why not contact the team at www.complete-publishing.com and let us help you get your book published and distributed worldwide.