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The publishing business has certainly changed in the past decade or so and will continue to do so. The popularity of eReaders and eBooks, as well as the ease with which they can be offered to the buying public, is a boon to self-published authors unlike anything we have ever seen. The good news is, it should only get better.
However, there are some very common mistakes that authors who self- publish are prone to make, mistakes which can easily kill your book sales, making all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into creating your masterpiece worthless.
While it is possible to have your new book self-published in a hard copy format, here we will focus on the author who does it all: write the book, format for eBook publishing, including creating a compelling book cover, uploading the manuscript to a site like Amazon, marketing the eBook, and sales. This is the true self-published author; the writer who takes responsibility for every aspect of publishing his or her own work. All should be commended for taking the leap, and all should take care to make the reading experience as enjoyable as possible for their audience.
As any successful writer would tell you, success is in the details. This is even more important for the self-published author, who accepts far more responsibility in the publishing process does the writer who uses the traditional model.
Writing your book is just the beginning. Once you've completed your first draft, it's time to get back in there and do the real work of making it better. Depending on the type of book you're creating, a novel versus a technical tome for example, the number of drafts you'll need can vary widely but, you should figure on a minimum of three drafts to get it right, and perhaps more than 10 drafts to make it perfect. Here are some tips that will help you make your efforts more productive:
1. Be professional in all you do. If you're serious about your writing, if it's more than just a hobby for you, you'll want to make sure that you're serious about publishing yourself as well. If you take yourself seriously, others will take you seriously too. Dedicate yourself to the entire process before you begin, and commit to seeing it through, no matter how difficult or frustrating it may become. At the very least you'll learn some valuable lessons and you may just discover that you love the process as much as you love writing.
2. Edit your text thoroughly - or have it done for you. Nothing frustrates a reader more than trying to read a poorly edited book, whether digital or bound. Comprehensive, in-depth copy editing is merely another step in the process of behaving like a professional. Comprehensive editing of your manuscript may include clarifying or reorganizing a manuscript for content and structure; clarifying meaning, eliminating jargon, polishing language, and other non-mechanical line-by-line editing; grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation, and other mechanics of style; consistency of mechanics and tense; editing tables, figures, and lists; and more. If you're not able to perform this type of editing for yourself, it would be wise to hire an editor to do it for you.
3. Proof... Proof... Proof read your eBook for typos and other errors. From the writers' perspective, as well as the reader, nothing is more disappointing than to generate multiple drafts, edit the work and publish, only to discover silly mistakes within the copy that were not caught by spell checking software or by other means. Seeing a typo in your published work can be incredibly deflating. This happens regularly to writers who proof read their own work; after all, you know what the text should say and your mind will automatically correct these minor errors as you read your manuscript. Hiring a proof reader, or asking someone you trust to proof your work for you, can be invaluable to your peace of mind upon publishing your eBook.
4. Reviews sell more books. The more positive reviews you have, the more eBooks you will sell. This has been a publishing truism for generations and is even more important when you offer your eBook through the impersonal world of the internet. Urge your readers to post a review on the site they bought your eBook. Legitimate, verified reviews go a long way in helping new customers make a buying decision.
5. Book awards sell more books. One of the more effective marketing tools for self-published authors in the age of digital publishing and internet sales is the book award. Since you are only beginning to build your reputation, anything you can do to let your potential buyer know just how good your work is, a book award may be that last little bit of information that will compel them to buy your eBook. There are multiple book award programs available, from the prestigious National Book Awards sponsored by the National Book Foundation, to book awards geared toward indie publishing, such as The USA Best Book Awards sponsored by USA Book News.
Your choice to self-publish your eBook is a brave one. You should take great pride in doing so and, if you follow the steps above, being a self-published author should be a valuable experience and wonderful adventure.