12 Most Pre-Publish Tips to Make E-Book Authoring Smoother
Everyone reads books. Have you ever thought of being an author of a book someone reads?
Today’s new world of smart technology and even smarter devices has leveled the playing field for authors the world over. There’s no time like the present to dive into the new world of self-publishing to bring your e-book to owners of digital book readers and smartphones.
Before you do, this list of 12 need-to-know tips should pave the way for a smoother start to an exciting arena that changes by the day. With your eyes wide open for the zigs and zags presented below, you’ll be well on your way to stardom with a lot of trial and tribulation.
1. Write in Microsoft Word
Because MS Word is the de facto word processing system for the masses, you’re better off using the most current version you can get prior to writing your manuscript. In the U.S., you can buy a single copy for about $120 and it’s well worth it.
2. Use Styles when formatting
When using Styles right away, you’re essentially formatting your document from the start instead of formatting it after you’ve written 500 pages. When you consider which design software to use, having an already-formatted document makes life easier later.
On your toolbar, go to Format, then Style. Open the windows and play around until you see the effect your styling has on a manuscript.
3. Know basic rules of punctuation and grammar
Few people are expert at grammar and punctuation. When you become an author, it’s imperative to learn the basics and apply them throughout your manuscript. This will help save time and money later!
4. Use reference books
There’s a book, The Chicago Manual of Style, that is recommended by the most esteemed writers. You can sign up for a free trial for 30 days, buy a subscription to the online book, or buy the book itself. Make the investment — it will guide you throughout your writing career.
5. Hire a good proofreader
Too many e-book authors think they can proofread themselves. Not true. Have you ever bought a free or $.99 book on Amazon and began to read only to see oodles of typos on the first page? Books like these are unreadable. Why embarrass yourself with mistakes when someone with a fresh eye can review and catch hidden typos?
6. Consider an editor
If you’re making e-book writing your professional career then having an editor is a necessity. For folks who only plan to write a few e-books a year, get someone to read content for clarity, flow, and correctness. Writers get too close to their work — having a fresh eye is critical prior to calling the book “final.”
7. Learn about publishing formats
This is probably the most critical tip for you to heed. First-time authors think publishing in Adobe PDF is all you need. That’s fine if you’re only offering your e-book on your own website for download. When you have designs on making your book available to a much wider audience, then you need to know what these file formats mean: .azw, .indd, MOBI, EPUB, and PDF.
8. Determine how to distribute
Will you sell your book on Google Play, Kindle Direct Publishing, Nook, iBookstore, or Kobo? Google is for Android devices; Kindle Direct Publishing is Amazon; Nook is Barnes & Noble; and iBookstore is Apple and iTunes. Each requires different file formats!
9. Consider buying Adobe InDesign
People use different design software to self-publish books. When you use Styles in MS Word they import to InDesign and you can save a lot of time reformatting. InDesign allows simple exporting of EPUB and PDF documents and by using a plug in you can export MOBI too. This software is not cheap, but there are subscription options month-to-month that may save money (depending on how many books you plan to self publish).
10. Design creative covers
Browse online booksellers for e-books. Which cover catches your eye more than others? If you’re not a designer, and authors typically can’t do it all, then invest in a good graphic designer, preferably one also experienced with InDesign. First-timers are going to need help learning InDesign as it is professional software.
At the same time, consider your use of imagery throughout the book. Images, tables, bullets, and the table of contents will give you pause as you consider how to upload your final document. File formats do not always import as expected and you want to minimize the extent of gobbledygook you get.
11. Plan a budget
Already, we’ve included proofreader, editor, graphic artist, and purchasing InDesign software. Another line item is marketing the book — will you do it yourself via social media or will you hire someone? To offset some of your expenses, you may be able to sell your book at a nominal price. Pricing of books is a crapshoot — one author on Amazon has books priced at $9.99, $5.99, $.99, and free all available side by side. Look at money invested, popularity of the content, how you’ll market, and whether you’re interested in establishing a brand or getting rich quick (which is always a bad idea).
This book by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch provides astonishing detail and is written in a simple and friendly tone. Self-publishing is only a part of this book; however, many of the tips listed are addressed in incredible depth with a good deal of time devoted to pushing the book to buyers once it’s published. If you read nothing else about how to become an author, or if you’re already an author and need a refresher, then this book is for you. Run and get it!
If you have a self-publishing experience to share, please do so in the comments below! This is definitely a quagmire with so much to learn — I’m interested in your tips to smooth it all out.
Featured image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan licensed via Creative Commons.