5 Common Indie Publishing Errors

Indie publishing is growing. Indie published titles now account for about 17% of all books sold. This is great news. Sadly, many indie authors don’t take the time to fully educate themselves on important aspects of publishing a book. Then these authors wonder why people don’t stand up and take notice of their books.

Following are five common errors that indie published authors make. I encourage you to read this list and educate yourself. Don’t make these mistakes.

1. Thinking that being self-published is a badge of honor.

Congratulations. You have self-published. Yes, it was a lot of work. It took time and dedication. However, being self-published is not a badge of honor. For years, self-published books were highly stigmatized. Most people viewed them as subpar. While self-published books have lost much of their stigma, it has not fully gone away.

If you are only marketing your book to readers, then loudly asserting that your book is self-published may not be that detrimental to your marketing efforts. But, if you are trying to obtain media coverage or reviews for your book in trade publications, then announcing that your book is self-published will ensure you do not receive coverage. Your press release or book will be thrown away. Most industry professionals still view self-published books as second-tier books. In other words, don’t announce in your press releases that your book is self-published.

2. Not purchasing your own ISBN.

Many indie authors are so happy to get their book published, that they accept the free ISBN from the publishing service they are using. This is another way to signal to the industry that you are self-published. ISBN stands for Industry Standard Book Number. Every book published receives an ISBN. This number is linked to the “publisher” of the book. If you purchase or use an ISBN from a service provider like CreateSpace, then your book is forever linked to that service.

Look professional. Get your own ISBN for your books. ISBN numbers are affordable. They can be purchased through Bowker.

Once you have an ISBN number, be sure to give the 13-digit number, not the 10-digit number when asked for your book’s ISBN number. The 13-digit is the industry standard.

3. Listing the publisher of your book as CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing.

CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing are not publishers. Let me state that again in case you missed it. CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing are not publishers. They are publishing services that allow you to take a book and get it listed in Amazon’s online bookstore. Both services also allow you to purchase print copies of your book.

These services are not publishers because they do not do the tasks publishers do of editing, proofing, layout and design, and marketing. They simply allow you to sell books that you have uploaded to their service.

Books that have CreateSpace or Kindle Direct Publishing listed as the publisher on Amazon shout self-published. As I stated earlier, while much of the stigma over self-publishing has gone away, it has not been erased. You will have greater success hooking more readers if you look traditionally published.

If you did use a CreateSpace ISBN, at least pay the small $10 fee that CreateSpace charges to list yourself or your company or ministry as the publisher on your Amazon listing and in expanded distribution.

4. Thinking that bookstores order books from Amazon.

I previously wrote a blog post on “Amazon is Not a Distributor.” I will reiterate that here. Amazon is a bookstore. Bookstores do not order books from other bookstores. Bookstores order books from distributors at a minimum of a 40 percent discount from retail price so that they can earn money off the sale of the book. If Amazon is the only place your book is for sale, bookstores will not order your book.

5. Listing the book cover designer as the illustrator.

An illustrator is someone who has provided illustrations for the interior of a book. Most adult fiction and nonfiction books do not have illustrators, while most children’s books do. However, it is standard to have an illustrator field for metadata because those books that do have illustrators need them listed. It is okay to leave this field blank if your book does not have an illustrator. Don’t list the book cover designer. I am amazed at how many authors who nominate books for the Christian Indie Awards list their cover designer as the illustrator.

I know there are more than five common mistakes that indie authors make. I have just chosen these five to list. If you have a mistake that you have seen indie authors make and want to share it, please do in the comments section.

Related Posts:
Amazon is Not a Distributor
I Don’t Know Anything About Publishing
How to Become an Indie Author

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I Don’t Know Anything About Publishing

“I don’t know anything about publishing.” The gentleman standing before me started with this sentence. Then he went on to state, “…but I published a book on CreateSpace.” He reached into his brief bag and brought out a book. Next, he asked, “What can Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) do for me?”

I explained that one of the things CSPA does is help authors like him learn about publishing. That we have on-demand seminars that teach indie authors how to publish an industry-standard book and we offer a Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book as a resource for our members.

“What would you suggest I change on my book?” The author asked next. I gently pointed out the following to him.

  1. His book title needs to be able to be easily read from six to 10 feet away and also in a small thumbnail sketch. I noted that I had difficulty reading his book title two to three feet away due to the fancy font he used and that I definitely could not read it six feet away.
  2. I suggested that his interior was not laid out to industry standards. His margins ran too close to the edges and his font-size and layout made the book look like it was for a middle-grade reader, not an adult.

The author insisted that he did not want to change the font he chose for his title—that he liked it. He stated that he liked the interior layout because he had envisioned such a layout for a larger landscape book (however, this book was a traditional smaller portrait paperback). He kept insisting that he liked what he had done.

I suggested that if he had just published the book for himself and his family, that liking what he had chosen was perfectly acceptable and sufficient. However, if he wanted to sell this book beyond his small circle, as he had indicated to me, then he needed to make the book industry standard.

I explained to him that readers know what a book is “supposed” to look like. When a book does not look like what they expect, they will often pass it up. In publishing, looking different or out of place does not sell books. What sells books is compelling covers and prose.

Next, the author asked me what I would do to help get more attention for his book on Amazon. I suggested the following.

  1. Make sure that his Amazon author page was complete. To have a good author photo, a bio, and links to his websites on his Amazon author page.
  2. Use great keywords to help people discover his book. I explained that his book was an Advent devotional, yet he did not use Advent anywhere in the title or subtitle. As a result, he is missing out on people searching for Advent books. I pointed out to this gentleman that this was the type of information CSPA regularly provides to our members in our monthly newsletter.

The author told me that he did not want to change his title or subtitle, that he liked it. I told him that he did not have to take any of my suggestions. I reminded him that he had asked my advice after telling me he did not know anything about publishing.

Advice is just that—advice. I give it. You don’t have to take it. It’s your book, your life, your goals and dreams. But, let me offer one last piece of advice.

If you want to sell books, you can’t be too tied to your first idea. Let your idea germinate and grow. Let others water it and help nurture it to maturity so that your end product is something that is beautiful and excellent and actively fulfills the purpose for which God birthed it in your heart.

Related Posts:
Is Your Book Cover Too Cluttered?
First Impressions Matter
Sales Text that Sells

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Are You In a Rush?

I remember being 37 weeks pregnant and eager to give birth. Tired and big as a whale, I just wanted the baby out of my body. Yet, my baby just refused to be rushed.

One of the fun things I do at writers conferences is provide consultations to attendees. At a recent conference, I was consulting with a pair of authors who were bent on having their indie published book available for sale within four short weeks.

The pair had just finished a final run-through of the manuscript. The interior of the book was not yet laid out, nor did they have a final cover copy.

“What’s the rush?” I asked them. The response was that they had already sent out press releases announcing that the book would be coming out.

 

I then asked the authors if they had had any responses from their press release. The response was “No.”

I told them that if they did not have any responses from the press release, they could just move forward as if they had never sent it out. This way, they could have more time to make sure their manuscript and cover were in top shape, and they could develop a book launch plan—which they had not yet done (other than send out press releases).

One of the authors remained adamant. “We can’t change the on-sale date (also known as the book release date), the press releases have gone out.”

I tried to gently explain to this author that if they had received no response from their initial press release blast, that it was highly unlikely that anyone would notice that they changed their on-sale date. I educated these authors that, due to the number of press releases that media personnel are inundated with, it often takes more than one contact for them to notice a press release. I attempted to educate the pair on the Rule of Seven (which I have previously written about on this blog).

Rarely is there a reason to “rush” a book to press. Take your time. The following elements should be firmly in place before you choose the date your book will release.

  • Your manuscript has been edited, proofread, and professionally laid out.
  • A beautiful cover design has been selected.
  • Beta readers have reviewed the book.
  • You have a website and a social media presence for the author/book.
  • Endorsements for the book have been secured.
  • You have a comprehensive marketing plan in place.
  • You have built and are continuing to build anticipation for the release of the book.

I know that your book is your baby. As you near the end, your desire to have the finished product increases. However, just like a baby in the womb, your book needs to complete its gestation period so that the final product is ready to thrive outside the incubation vessel.

Don’t let your eagerness to see your book in print or your excitement about your book’s impending publication run ahead of your preparedness.

Remember: “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” Don’t rush, take your time. Your book will be better for it.

Related Posts:
Does Your Book Stand Out?
Is Your Book Cover Too Cluttered?
How Effective Are Your Press Releases?

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Photo courtesy of Jean Wimmerlin.

Is Your Book Cover Too Cluttered?

Writers love words. They often try to convey as much information as possible in words. This is great for a story or book, but not for marketing material.

Marketing material is all about catching someone’s attention. Good marketing or advertising copy draws the viewer in creating interest and intrigue so that the viewer wants to learn more. It doesn’t answer all the questions. It simply whets the appetite.

A book cover is marketing material. Like all advertising or marketing copy, its purpose is to draw a reader in.

One BookCrash reviewer recently said the following about a book she reviewed:

“The cover is attractive as well and I’m one of those who pays attention to such things. This one is nice and clean; not all cluttered up.”

The most attractive designs whether architectural or graphic are generally uncomplicated and streamlined. Your book cover should also be clean and uncluttered.

Take a look at the following two book covers. Which one does your eye gravitate to?

Notice whether it is the simpler or the more complex design. Is it the one with more white space?

The best way to ensure that your book cover is uncluttered is to limit the amount of words you put on the cover and make ample use of white space. White space simply refers to areas of a design that are not filled in with text, images or embellishments.

Proper use of white space focuses the viewer’s eye to the key elements of your design.
Think “less is more” when designing or choosing a design for your next book cover.

Leave empty spaces and ensure that your book’s cover does not look cluttered. Uncluttered book covers are more appealing.

Consider the following four design elements to help keep your book’s cover uncluttered and engaging:

  1. Use white space to create focus.
  2. Use spacing between letters in the title.
  3. Make one aspect of your design prominent so the eye knows where to focus.
  4. The title and picture should be easily seen from a few feet away and in a thumbnail sketch.

Your book’s cover is your book’s number one marketing tool. Cleverly designed and uncomplicated book covers grab readers’ attention.

Related Posts:
Book Cover Design Tools to Know
An Interesting Book Cover Icon
Is Your Book a Work of Beauty?

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How to Become an Indie Author

One study shows that 80% of people feel they have a book inside of them. If you have a book inside of you that is waiting to come out, now is a great time to make your dream come true.

Independent publishing is growing. The cost to produce a book is within the average person’s reach, and with the Internet, marketing opportunities are right at your fingertips.

So, becoming an independent author is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Simply write your book, publish it, and then start selling. Wait—is it really that easy?

Sadly, some new indie authors fall into this belief system. These authors fail to learn what is required to produce a quality book that resembles books published by traditional publishing houses. Then they get frustrated when their book doesn’t sell.

If you are thinking about publishing a book as an indie author, I encourage you to gain the knowledge you need to produce a quality book that meets industry standards and glorifies God. Here are two ways you can get that information:

1. Attend my “Going Indie” seminar at the upcoming Write to Impact Lives Conference.

The Write to Impact Lives Conference will be held in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, on February 9 to 10, 2018. I will teach a four-hour session on Friday afternoon that will cover everything you need to know to publish an industry-standard book. The seminar will cover:

  • Three things to do before you publish your book.
  • Preparing your manuscript for publishing including editing, interior layout and design, and your book cover design.
  • Publishing your book affordably.

If you do not live near Philadelphia, you have another option to get this great information.

2. Become a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA).

Membership in Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) is open to individuals who have published or are considering publishing a book. You do not have to have already published a book to join the association.

Members of CSPA have access to on-demand seminars covering all the information you need to publish an industry standard book. CSPA Members also have access to a Checklist for Publishing a Professional-Looking Book. Additionally, as a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association, you have access to free title setup and revisions with IngramSpark, a print-on-demand service that also provides distribution for your book.

Membership in CSPA is just $90 for the 2018 calendar year. You can join today on CSPA’s website.

Make 2018 the year you indie publish that book you have been wanting to complete!

Related Posts:
Sales of Indie Books Continue to Grow
Oh, The Places Your Book Will Go!
It’s Never Too Late

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