Self-Publishing Mistakes You Can Avoid

If you’ve spent much time with your latest manuscript, you may have begun to notice that certain errors are both easy to make and easy to miss when revising. This is true of the self-publishing process. If you want to be taken seriously as an author, a professional author with a successful book, there are some common mistakes you can easily avoid when self-publishing your book.

Here are five recommendations to get you started:

1) Don’t feel pressured into formatting the interior yourself!

Just as our beloved Dr. McCoy on Star Trek had to remind his fellow adventurers often that he was a doctor, not a physicist (or engineer, or bricklayer, or a myriad other things), let us remind you that you’re a writer, not a book designer. (Unless you actually do design books for a living. In which case, move on to the second point.) There are few things as time-consuming as researching the stringent requirements of each publishing medium (print and digital) and then finding the software and the time to do it right. When it comes to book interiors, it’s best to leave this task to the professionals and focus your time on writing and promoting your book.

2) Invest in a Professionally Designed Custom Cover.

Most readers do, in fact, judge a book by its cover, so having an eye-catching, quality cover that professionally represents your book is essential. Most template covers will look and feel like cookie cutter designs with no effort put into them, even if you make small changes to it. It’s worth your while to invest in a professionally designed, dynamic custom cover unique to your book.

3) Don’t (just) edit the book yourself!

No matter how great of a writer you are, or how excellent of an editor you are of other peoples’ works, you cannot edit your own book! It is far too easy to miss mistakes because you are too familiar with your work, even if you take all possible precautions, like reading the whole manuscript aloud to yourself. No: when it comes to editing, this task requires a professional. And even if you are a professional editor, it requires someone who is not you and who will not be bogged down by the human brain’s predilection to fill in gaps when it knows where a story is headed. Those gaps may not matter to your subconscious, but they will most definitely matter to your readers! Pay for top-notch editing services in addition to your other beta readers, if you can; this means using a professional editor and not your sister-in-law or next-door neighbor.

4) Don’t neglect the back cover.

Once your manuscript is ready to go, as well as your front cover and interior formatting, and you are in all other ways ready to self-publish your book, one of the first things you’ll be asked for is your back cover synopsis and author biography. This isn’t something which can be rushed, unfortunately, so take a moment to slow down and breathe. Don’t just throw something together without much thought! Readers will look at your back matter and determine whether or not they should buy your book. Everything counts, from an ISBN number to a well-edited synopsis to a visually appealing author photo. Consult an expert if you need one!

5) Last but not least, don’t rush.

This may be the last recommendation on our list today, but it’s most definitely not one to be tacked on like an afterthought. In fact, learning how not to rush through the process may be the most important of all of the points we’ve included here today! Sure, you are anxious to self-publish your book (and we’re eager to help you do so speedily as well), but don’t rush. Producing a quality book, one with a great cover and copyedited pages, simply takes time. It’s a reasoned process! Be patient now, and considered in all of your decisions, and you will be glad you did once you have a finished, published, beautiful book to be proud of.

There are many great self-publishing success stories! You can be one of them by avoiding these mistakes and following the recommendations. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

Why Your Book is Like a Start-Up Business

Have you recently self-published a book? The more time you spend exploring your options and opportunities, the clearer it becomes that self-publishing a book is a lot like launching a start-up business … and that the more you plan, the more you’ll get ahead.

There are countless considerations and decisions to make once you make that big commitment to self-publish! And if your new book is your new business, you need to keep many things in mind prior to, during, and after publication. First off, you absolutely must take some time to sit down and plan out your next steps. Planning is something you’ll need to return to, as well, throughout the process! Taking time periodically to evaluate, and possibly re-evaluate your plan, is necessary to ensure that you are still on the right track.

Looking for some ideas to get started? Ask yourself these questions and you may just find the answer that will keep your book, and you as an author, in business for a very long time:

  1. What business are you in? This is an important initial question and everything you do should build from this. What things are you interested in? Will your book be a product of your interests? This question may seem deceptively simple, but it’s foundational to literally everything else.
  2. What is your product? Again, this may seem like a simple question but it really isn’t. Can you describe your book as if it were a product? What are its major features? Is your book a niche product?
  3. What are your goals and objectives? Determining where you want your book-as-a-business to go is an important step when starting off. Consider if you want to market this book locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally. Set goals for yourself and for the sale of the book itself. Sit down every now and then and find out if those goals are reasonable, or perhaps they need to be changed.
  4. Who do you want to buy your book? Every business needs a target market. We all would love to say that everyone will be interested and want to buy our books, but the reality is that this is never, and will never be the case. Now is the time to think about who that market will be for you. Think about your customer’s characteristics, their geography, age, gender, possibly even their income status.
  5. Who’s your competition? Scope out your competition. Has someone written anything similar? Do some research at your local bookstores and libraries and find things out about other books that compare to yours.
  6. How will you price your book? Pricing is an integral part of being able to set a budget for your book. You don’t want to set the price too high, and you certainly don’t want to short-change yourself by setting it too low. Thinking of the previous question you asked yourself, consider your competitors when setting your price. When determining your budget, be sure to set this to your comfort level and to a price that marks it as a quality entry in the genre. Pricing and budget ought to be evaluated on a continual basis, as the market changes rapidly.
  7. What’s your inventory? The last thing you want to happen is to not have books available when a person wants to buy. On the other hand, you don’t want to have too many on-hand. Look into the advantages of print-on-demand (POD) publishing, and make sure to inquire after discounted author copies!
  8. Have you crafted a strategy? Answering all of these questions can generate some complicated, even overwhelming to-dos, but crafting an overarching strategy to cope with your new business responsibilities is a vital part of the process. Start by taking all of these questions and letting them percolate for a while. Everything that follows needs to go hand-in-hand with the answers to achieve all of the goals and objectives you set out to accomplish
  9. What’s next? Usually, the fun part: marketing! There are so many things that go into marketing your book and your business, including creating your brand, launching promotions, sales, and advertising as well as navigating distribution channels and much more. Create a plan that satisfies all these things, and all things you want to do to market your creation. Where do you want to make your book available for purchase? Who will sell your book? What avenues do you want to use to advertise your book?

Always be sure to keep in touch with your fans and followers. After the success you’re bound to have with your latest book, you’re going to write many more … right? Keeping in touch with your fans will make selling that next book that much easier.

Need help? Our Personal Marketing Assistants are ready and eager to help you figure out the perfect way to build your self-publishing business! You can also get fresh marketing ideas any time in the FREE Book Marketing Resource Center.

How To Craft the Perfect Holiday-Themed Book

It’s almost December, and that means one thing is most definitely on everyone’s minds: the holidays. We’re in the final stretch to Christmas, with New Year’s already peeking in over the horizon. And while it may be too late to crank out an entire new holiday-themed book for publication by Christmas, this does make the perfect time to talk about what it is that actually makes for a successful holiday-themed writing project! After all, the good thing about the calendar is that it keeps bringing the good things back around again, year after year.

There are two key things to keep in mind that are specific to writing holiday-themed books: saturation and genre. Genre is important because there are several which are known for holiday-themed installments, particularly romance, non-fiction and children’s picture books. The first two provide opportunities for additions to ongoing series, featuring beloved characters or ideas but with bonus added holiday appeal, while holiday-themed children’s picture books offer bountiful opportunities for rich illustrations! And while any genre can definitely be enriched with a little extra holiday appeal, you will have to choose between writing in a genre where your book will have lots of competition but also a massive built-in readership, and writing in a genre where you will be the innovator and trend-setter. Pick wisely, and with your heart!

Secondly, when we use the word saturation here, we refer to the degree to which the holidays figure in your book. It is vital as you set out to craft a holiday-themed book that you don’t get so carried away including festive imagery and festive language and festive references to Frosty the Snowman and so forth that you forget all of the other vital elements of craft: plot, characterization, style, and voice to name a few. It’s best to set a couple of guidelines for yourself going in, to outline––even if you don’t outline your entire book––the specifics of what will give your book a holiday appeal. Before you pick up your pen or open your laptop.

Keep these two guiding stars in your constellation of inspiration, and you’ll produce a book which has massive sales potential around the holidays––and which will also hold lasting appeal, regardless of the season!

Not sure where to start? It may be time to lean on an expert. If you’re looking to write and publish a holiday-themed book, there’s never a better time than now to inquire. Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com where you can chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657.

To see our staff picks of amazing holiday books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

Announcing the New & Improved Marketing COACH

Long before Outskirts Press became the fastest-growing self-publishing company and became rated #1 by Top Consumer Reviews, we were doing something differently, something better: We were taking a serious interest in the success of our authors and their books after publication by providing each and every published author with consistent online advice, coaching, and help — the acronym for which we trademarked as The Marketing COACH.

Browse our testimonials or talk to our published authors through our Facebook community and you’ll consistently find rave reviews for this exclusive (and included) marketing offering from Outskirts Press.

Well, the Marketing COACH is about to get even better!  In January, the New & Improved Marketing COACH is launching for all our published and soon-to-be-published authors. Now, fiction writers will get marketing advice geared just for them, while children’s book writers will receive marketing tactics focused on promoting their juvenile books.  Different genres require different marketing tactics, and the New & Improved Marketing COACH will only send you the marketing information you need for YOUR book.

Of course, if you’ve published multiple books, in multiple genres, as so many of our authors have, the Marketing COACH will help you with each genre you’ve published under, from among four encompassing categories:

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The New & Improved Marketing COACH joins the extensive array of included (free) book marketing support provided to all Outskirts Press authors, like…

  • The Free Book Marketing Resource and Bookshelf
  • The Book Marketing RoadMap and Tip Sheets
  • The 7 Tactics of Successfully Published Authors
  • The 28 Day Launch Calendar

If you’re an Outskirts Press author, keep a look out for your first contact from your New Marketing COACH during the week of January 9th. Happy holidays!

Does your book say BUY ME?

Picture your customer. They’re scrolling through books on Amazon, looking for a good weekend read. They stop and look at your book, pulled in by the perfect cover design. They take a sip of their coffee and click for a closer look, to see if what you’ve written is something they’d like to invest their time and money in.

Now what do you envision? Do they add your book to their cart…or do they move on to the next book in their search results?

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If your front cover is your book’s first impression, your back cover synopsis is a very valuable second; you’re targeting your reader, pulling them in, and convincing them that this is a book worth investing in. One typo or missing element could make the difference between your sales being “okay” and “wow!”

And, it’s important to realize that “back cover synopsis” content isn’t solely for the actual back cover — it is also the “sales copy” (otherwise called “the annotation”) for the detailed sales page on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  If you believe people will never see your “back cover synopsis” because people don’t see back covers of books anymore, think again.  Most book buyers thoroughly read the “sales copy” of the books they are considering.

Yes, you can write your own back cover copy, but should you?  Writing something that educates or entertains is different from writing something that sells. As a professional author, it’s important to know when to ask for help.

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The skilled team behind the “Cover Text Refinement Option” at Outskirts Press knows what it takes to transform a browser into a buyer. With this optional production option, you’re telling your readers that your book is worth their time and money because you’ve made it the best it can possibly be, both inside and out.

While editing your back cover synopsis is important and sets the tone for the rest of the book, that’s only a piece of the puzzle. The Outskirts Press copywriters will do what it takes to hook your readers by professionally summarizing your manuscript and creating an eye-catching headline and compelling author biography.

You’ve written the book you’ve been thinking about for years – don’t let your hard work go unnoticed. An amazing back cover and sales annotation can make the difference between someone scrolling past your book…and someone buying it.

5 Do’s and Don’ts for Formatting, Grammar, and Spelling

At Outskirts Press, our passion is helping you publish the book of your dreams. And you can help us. Even though we will strive to ensure that your book is perfect when it is done, there are little things you can do with your manuscript prior to the publishing stage that will go a long way toward helping us publish a perfect book later. Just five little things…

#1. Don’t insert hard paragraph breaks after every line. You can see where hard returns are in your Microsoft Word document by holding down CTRL-SHIFT-8. That bold “paragraph symbol” shows you where the hard returns are. They should be only at the ends of paragraphs.

#2. Don’t manually insert hyphens. Your word processor should hyphenate words automatically, unless you have that function turned off. But even turning off auto-hyphenation is preferable to manually inserting a hyphen yourself. A manually-inserted hyphen will cause all sorts of problems during interior book formatting, so be sure to remove them from your manuscript before submitting it to us (or to any publisher, for that matter).

#3. Don’t use ALL CAPS. You may be tempted to capitalize words for emphasis, or for book titles. In both instances, italics are preferred.

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Readers appreciate error-free books.

#4. Do spell check your work. All word processors have built-in spell checking. Even if you plan on having us professionally edit your manuscript before publication (which we STRONGLY recommend; oops, I mean strongly recommend), it is a good idea to run your spell check program over your manuscript prior to submitting it to us, just to fix all the “easy” errors.

#5. Do check your grammar. Most word processors also have built-in grammar checking, although they are admittedly poor. There are better (and free) alternatives on the Internet. Our favorite is Online-SpellCheck.com. Simply cut and paste your manuscript, a chapter at a time, into the online form and Online-SpellCheck will not only identify spelling errors your word processor probably missed, but it will also catch other common grammatical errors such as contextual misspellings, commonly switched words, typographical errors, and more.

Even if you plan on ordering our optional editing service to have your manuscript professionally edited, this procedure with Online-SpellCheck is an important one to complete prior to submitting your manuscript. And if you choose to forgo our optional editing services (which we recommend against), this step with Online-SpellCheck.com is basically mandatory. It’s quick and free, so do your future readers a favor and double-check your manuscript now.

Special Note: Be sure to bookmark Online-SpellCheck.com when you are there, so you can access it during the production phase at Outskirts Press. You will be entering information into your Publishing Center (like your synopsis, back cover copy, and online sales copy). It’s best to run those paragraphs through Online-SpellCheck.com before submitting them during the pre-production process.

Additionally, there is a popular Chrome extension to consider: Grammarly (at www.grammarly.com). This browser extension runs in the background on the Chrome Internet browser and checks spelling and grammar “on the fly” as you enter words into online forms. This is very useful for completing your publishing process error-free.

Obviously, there is no substitute for a professional human editor, but complementing our professional editing services with Online-SpellCheck and Grammarly is the perfect hat trick to almost guarantee an error-free book.

 

10 Effective Ways to Use Your Book Copies

Most publishers give you some free copies of your book when it is published. (And if yours didn’t, ask yourself what you’re doing publishing your heart & soul there).

Once you have those copies, the question then becomes: what do you do with them?  And that’s where today’s posting comes in, with the following free Outskirts Press tip-sheet. Just click on this graphic to open/download this complimentary tip sheet today.  Enjoy!

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