Previously we’ve discussed a few basics before you get started with your independent publishing venture—Toolkit, Types of publishing options, and more. Now let’s see if you have the proper mindset to move to the next step…
From this point on, you cannot think like an author. That will make this so much more difficult than it needs to be. Publishing is a business and must treated as one. Your mindset now is to THINK like a publisher. Authors are in the business of writing and getting published. Publishers are in the business of publishing and selling books. Sometimes the best interests of you-the-author and you-the-publisher are the same while other times they collide like a forty car pileup on the interstate.
Ready to start?
Author hat off?
Publisher hat on?
Before you begin ask yourself one more time, as a publisher, is this book really ready for publication? The reason I keep saying this is simple, once you pull the trigger and your book goes live, it is out there for the whole world to read. If it is not ready, readers will let you know. Maybe, if you’re lucky, they’ll do it via email, but the more likely scenario is with a bad review on Amazon. Avoid any future embarrassment by spending a little extra time now to ensure that your book has been carefully formulated, mindfully written, professionally edited, meticulously proofed, and creatively designed. Be a responsible publisher and do it right! In the long run, shortcuts cost sales. Being cheap reflects poorly on you as a publisher. I’m not advocating extravagance. I’m advocating quality. Believe me, the reader will know the difference as soon as she picks up your book.
Is the manuscript formatted correctly? My first two thrillers, The Savannah Project & The Toymaker, were drafted with standard manuscript formatting—1 inch margins all around, double-spaced, Times New Roman font. Later I had to go back and reformat the manuscript to get it ready for the interior layout or galley. Why do the extra work? A little trick I discovered when writing Breach of Power was to format the document ahead of time, set up styles, and use them as I typed the story. When I finished the manuscript, it was already formatted and, after thorough editing, ready for interior design. I suggest you use standard fonts recognized throughout all the graphics programs and make sure they are attractive and easy-to-read as well. Your interior layout isn’t just a little important—it’s critical. I’ll go into more detail in just a minute.
Is the book you’re about to publish fiction or non-fiction? The interior design of fiction books, especially if there are no graphics, is quite simple. Non-fiction is more difficult and labor intensive, especially if there are graphics, images, sidebars, and tables to consider. And even harder still, is turning that manuscript into an e-book while still retaining its visual appeal to the reader.
Do readers really judge a book by its cover? You betcha! I challenge you to do this and I’m certain you’ll learn something interesting about reader behavior, which is important to consider before you publish. Go to your local bookstore, big box or independent, it really doesn’t matter. Watch the browsers, not the customers who dart straight to a shelf, pick something up, and leave. They knew what they wanted before they walked in. The browsers have to be sold on a book before they buy it. They didn’t walk in the bookstore with anything particular in mind. They’re window-shopping. The first thing the book has to do is speak to the reader: “Please take me off the shelf.” Eye appeal. If the cover doesn’t grab them, the reader will pass it by. Your cover needs to stand out above the others on the shelf or the odds that it gets picked up are slim. You’ve heard the old adage, “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” It certainly holds true for your book cover. Don’t’ scrimp, it’s too important.
Now keep watching. After the reader pulls your book from the shelf, she’ll briefly glance at the back cover, and then she’ll open it up and thumb through the pages. Whether a conscious effort or not, her mind is registering whether the inside of the book will be easy to read. If she finds the interior inviting…line spacing, font, font size, paper quality, and color…she’ll return to the back cover and read it more intently. If you’ve done your job and designed an eye catching front cover, a comfortable inviting interior, and a snappy luring synopsis on the back cover, she’ll take your book to the cash register. If you haven’t, she’ll put it back on the shelf and move on. Win the sale, do it right.
Thanks for reading. Next installment will discuss selecting a name for your publishing company…and is a name really important?