3 Common Mistakes Indie Authors Make When Using a Typesetting Template

There are tons of self-publishing tools out there and with the proliferation of Word and InDesign templates, writers have a myriad of options to choose from when it comes to interior typesetting their paperback.

Templates are great for saving time and energy on the big things like headings, margins, and gutter widths, but you still need to do the fine tuning before you hit publish.

As a self-publisher, it is your responsibility to make sure that your book looks and feels like a traditionally published book. Yes, I’m putting that on you, not on the template.

The template can’t tell you when there is a widow/orphan even if you check that box in Word (don’t check that box, uncheck it right now).

I’ve seen both small and large mistakes happen with authors who didn’t manually adjust anything after plunking their text into the template. Don’t be that person.

I get it. You’re fatigued and you think the template will take care of everything, but it doesn’t. It can’t.

Remember to always think like a reader and don’t settle for anything less than your best. Strangers and friends will be reading your book. You want to impress them. Your template doesn’t care as much as you do about how your book looks on the inside. Don’t give into your fatigue and do the necessary fine tuning.

If you are too tired to care, hire an extra set of eyes to help you out.

Mistake #1

Justified    text    formatting     results    in     really     weird     spacing     between      words      to     make      up    for    the     justified      text.

Ok, that is an exaggeration above that I created manually but I have seen this in so many self-published books. Whenever I see this, I know that someone wasn’t experienced enough (or too tired/lazy) to go back and fix it.

Not a good look. Tsk, tsk.

You can correct this funky text justification manually by heading to the line(s) below wherever you see this bizarre spacing taking place and add in a hyphen to one or more of the words in those lines. 

Try it out and watch your spacing adjust like magic. Voila!

It’s a bit of an art form to find the right word to hyphenate that adjusts your spacing. 

Whatever you do, only hyphenate where it makes sense for the reader (e.g.,  “be-tween” not “betw-een”).

When you’re first starting out, this will take some experimentation to find out where it makes sense to add a hyphen so as not to confuse your reader.

Go through your entire document starting at the beginning and work progressively through your document from start to finish. Eliminate all of these overly stretched spaces between justified text.

As a reader, I want a seamless reading experience and too much white space between the words in a sentence is annoying, not helpful.

Mistake #2

Not controlling for orphans/widows.

I will admit, there was a point in Knocked Up Abroad Again (aff link) where I gave up adjusting for every single orphan and widow.

I did my best to take care of the really obvious/annoying ones but I let a few slide because it seemed that no matter how I adjusted my spacing, they remained.

You may find that you need to delete entire sentences to accommodate widow/orphan control and this can start to mess with your story. Again, typesetting is an art form.

Being able to keep all of the content and have it properly spaced—the lines and the spaces between the letters—to provide a seamless reading experience is why typesetters can charge what they do for their services.

I recently read a traditionally published novel that did zero widow/orphan control and it really bothered me. At least make an effort. 

Templates cannot control for widows and orphans even if you check the “Widow/orphan control” setting on Word (don’t do that, by the way).

You need to go back and take care of widows and orphans by adding/removing words from a sentence or changing the letter spacing/kerning. 

Again, work progressively through your manuscript from start to finish or all of your hard work will be erased as soon as you make any change whatsoever. Fun, right?

Mistake #3

Headers on pages with no content or headers on title pages.

ACK! This one is easy to miss for many beginning authors because they simply don’t know how to remove headers. This is one of the main dangers of using a template.

If you don’t understand how the template was created, you can’t edit the template accordingly and you’re left with headers standing proudly at the top of blank pages. 

Blank pages should be blank.

Typesetting in Word is tricky because it’s not a software that is designed for typesetting. You have to beat it into submission to make it do what you want, but you can do it.

When creating headers in Word for your author’s name and book title/chapter title on each page, you need to use your Word Sections wisely.

Create a new section and check off the boxes as such:

So, that’s really it.

Templates can result in a few obstacles that you can easily sidestep if you know what you’re looking for.

Templates are great tools for saving time and providing the consistency that readers expect in their formatting, but it’s still up to you to be sure your book looks and feels the way you want.

RESOURCES

If you want to get extra nerdy, which I always recommend, here are some additional articles to get you typesetting like a pro.

 

 

If you haven’t grabbed it yet, be sure to grab my FREE video training on designing a beautiful book, inside and out where I go over interior formatting in more detail. –>

If you’re looking to hire a fresh pair of eyes (mine) to review your manuscript before you hit PUBLISH, and aren’t afraid of keep-it-real feedback, then send me an email. I’m happy to help you avoid making unnecessary mistakes.

Perspectives from Self-Publisher, Britt Reints on Marketing and Topic Burnout

I had the opportunity to chat with Britt Reints, author of An Amateur’s Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness, who was kind enough to share her insights on why she chose to self-publish and the interesting things that happen when you are marketing your book.

Why did you decide to self-publish your book?

Honestly, I didn’t even try to publish the traditional route because I was scared someone would tell me I couldn’t do it. I’m an instant gratification person, and I didn’t want to wait for a long time only to be told, “No.”

What aspects did you end up doing yourself and what did you hire out?

I hired a cover designer and a few editors. I also hired a short-term publicist who blasted out my press release to every outlet and got me on a few radio shows. I did my website all by myself and the interior formatting of my book and e-book. I used Scrivener for the writing and organization of my book.

Do you remember how much it cost to produce your book?

I can’t remember exactly, but I’d say somewhere around $1800. The cover designer charged around $500, editors $800, and the publicist was around $500.

You’ve been writing for about 12 years. How helpful was your blog in informing your book?


Well, I traveled for a year, but I didn’t write about that trip. I wrote the book that I didn’t see in the self-help genre (I cringe at the term).

I wanted to write something that discussed the topic of happiness in a way that reached more people. I wanted it to be accessible.

I saw the same themes coming up over and over again on the blog, so I knew they were universal, and I wanted people to know how to do it.

Do you consider yourself a happiness guru of sorts?

After I wrote my book and did a Ted Talk, I haven’t written. It kind of killed my writing because after writing my book, marketing my book, I got annoyed with my topic.

Being associated with my book’s topic ended up being limiting in a way. I was interested in happiness because of a personal experience I had, but I’m kind of over that and want to explore other things.

What was the biggest marketing event that went the furthest?

I definitely sold the most number of books when I was speaking at corporate events and conferences and had my book for sale in the back of the room. I could sell a lot in bulk—20-30 books at one event, so that’s where I saw the most traction.

What advice would you give others?

Hone your craft and be a good writer (and all that jazz) but know that 90% of your work is going to be in marketing your book. If you’re not good at marketing, then invest your money in someone who is.

Do you think it’s worthwhile to self-publish a book?

Writing a book is a stepping stone. When you’re done, you have a huge sense of accomplishment, and it solidifies your platform. Similar to getting your college degree, it shows that you can do a good job and finish something. You can flesh out an idea into a finished book. It’s a major portfolio builder.

What’s next for you?

I would publish again, but now that everyone is writing on the internet, I feel less inclined to put my opinion out there until I know how my opinion is different from everyone else’s. I’m still active on social media, but Twitter is so noisy. I prefer Facebook for tracking conversations.

Check out Britt’s TedX talk here: Creating your owner’s manual for a happy life

Bio

Britt Reints is a happiness expert who doesn’t believe there is any such thing as a happiness expert.

Check out her writing at www.inpursuitofhappiness.net.

A New First: Learning New Skills when Self-Publishing

People always ask me if it was a lifetime dream to publish a book and honestly, it was never a dream of mine.

Throughout my academic career, I have written so many papers, technical reports, and research articles that the thought of writing a book had never crossed my mind until relatively recently.

However, once the idea was in my head and I discovered that there were a lot of viable options to self-publish a book of high-quality, I knew I had to do it.

Academia— always on someone else’s timeline

I’m used to the “publish or perish” mindset in academia—which insanely combines high quality with a sense of dire urgency. You must put out your best work before your colleagues. 

Academic publishing can be brutal. You are at the mercy of multiple rounds of revision, fact checking, and peer-review testing that are beyond your control and yet, you are expected to publish before everyone else.

There is a lot of hurry up and wait when it comes to academic publishing. Your best work is almost always in someone else’s hands.

With that in the back of my mind, I knew that if someone else published a book with the same idea and concept, I would be upset with myself for not pursuing it.

I relished the idea of being in control of the timeline but I was a harsh (still fair) boss and I held myself to self-imposed deadlines.

As much as I hate to admit it, it was the drive to be the first to publish the idea in book format was what spurred me to work those long nights for months on end. Because let’s face it, there aren’t many firsts left for most adults.

A new challenge

As an experienced professional, I had already gone through the ringer from graduate school, learned how to behave professionally in a traditional 9-5 office job, and presented at enough conferences to shake off the nerves.

The idea of creating and publishing a book was a new challenge.

A new set of steps to figure out and an exciting hike off my usual beaten path.

I felt confident that I could leverage my experience with traditional publishing in academia and apply my project management skills in self-publishing. I wasn’t leaving anything behind—I was taking all of my skills and utilizing them in a new way. It felt refreshing. It also jazzed up my daily tasks.

“You don’t have many “firsts” these days, babe. I’m proud of you.”

My husband made a valid point. As professional adults, a lot of our “firsts” are behind us. I’m a huge believer in always learning, studying, and researching new things but the idea that publishing a book would be a new “first” stuck with me.

The first time…

Self-publishing a book would be the first time I ever held a book in my hands with my name on the spine.

  • The first time I took an entire project from start to finish on my own inertia.
  • The first time I cared more about a project than anyone else.
  • The first time they were my deadlines and not someone else’s.
  • The first time I could create the sequence of steps and follow them how I wanted.
  • The first time someone else wasn’t asking me for project updates—I was the one managing a team.

My book wasn’t anyone else’s project. It was mine.

My first.

And it felt great.

If you’re looking for a new “first” and are considering self-publishing a book, let’s have a quick chat to see if I can help.

Want to do it on your own like I did? Check out my comprehensive course on self-publishing.

Perspectives From a Fellow Self-Publisher: Kiran Prasad

In this interview, I sat down and chatted with Kiran Prasad, author of A Mindful Move: Feel at home again, to pick her brain on what she loved and would recommend to anyone thinking about self-publishing.

Why did you decide to self-publish your book?

I tried to go the traditional publishing route and got nowhere with it. I spent a lot of time researching how to do it and sent off book proposals only to receive one rejection after another. I was lucky to get any response at all. Felt a bit like applying for jobs in a tough economy!

It seems that these days it is not enough to write a good book, you need a social media following of thousands before you can get noticed by traditional publishers.

Publishing is essentially a business and they need to be sure your book will sell well.

In the end, I was glad I self-published because I got to have autonomy over the entire process.

What aspects of the publishing process did you do yourself and what did you hire out?

Being an English Literature major and teacher, I value quality writing, therefore, I paid for professional editing. I also paid for a cover design because I know how important a polished look is to selling a book.

I set up my own website and social media following on my own after attending a writing workshop, reading books, and watching video tutorials.

I found it tough to justify spending much money upfront on my book not knowing if I would get a return on my investment.

Since we’re talking about investment, how much did your book cost to produce?

Most of my cost was for professional editing. But the total cost for editing, proofreading and cover design was around $3,000 dollars.

We all know that royalties won’t pay the bills but what types of things have happened after you published your book that surprised you?

At a webinar that I attended, we were advised to think of our book as a glorified business card. Really, I haven’t done much marketing of the book since it’s publication but I’ve still had a lot of people, like you, contacting me about it.

I’ve been on a few podcasts, blog interviews, and a New York Times journalist contacted me to write a column about mindfulness and moving. I’ve also been contacted by a women of color empowerment workgroup to give a 60-minute workshop and potentially give a talk at a university too.

None of those things would’ve happened if I hadn’t published my book.

What surprised you about the self-publishing process?

I was surprised how long the cover design ended up taking me and how the cost of professional editing could be variable as I went through the different stages of editing.

A pleasant surprise was how quickly my book went live on Amazon Kindle! It was the most incredible feeling to see my book up there for the world to purchase!

What advice would you give someone thinking about self-publishing? 

Research the process before jumping in so you know what you’re getting into. It can become overwhelming to learn and do at the same time.

Build a following before you publish so that you’re not tackling the marketing aspect at the end.

I recommend reading Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, for marketing ideas.

Research who the leaders are in your subject area and reach out to them for connections. I sent a free copy of my book to Naomi Hattaway, the community leader of I am a Triangle, and she’s been a great help.

I also recommend joining the Alliance of Independent Authors. You can join before you are self-published and put the member badge on your website that lets your readers know that you’re a professional.

I suggest following Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn. She has a ton of great advice, podcasts, tutorials, and e-books that really helped me while I was researching everything.

You need to set a deadline and hold yourself to it. Make it public if you need to. I posted to my Facebook page that I would release my book on my birthday and I hadn’t even started the process.

Without a deadline and someone holding you accountable, it’s easy to just keep on writing and writing.

What’s next for you, Kiran?

I’m going to keep moving forward and publicly announce that my next book will be released on my birthday in 2019. I have so much to say about my plant-based diet and how it has truly changed my life but more on that to come soon!

I really want the books I write to make a difference in people’s lives.

Bio

Kiran Prasad is a teacher, speaker, and author of A Mindful Move: Feel at home again.

She is a New York Times featured author and her work can be found at http://www.jaskiranprasad.com

Connect with Kiran on Facebook to follow her future work.

 

Click here to keep reading more perspectives from fellow self-publishers.

Major Mistakes I Have Made as an Indie Author

Time to own up to my mistakes. Don’t you love learning from other people’s mistakes? Well, read on because I’ve made plenty.

When it comes to self-publishing, it is really easy to get far down the wrong path before you even know that you’re heading the wrong way.

It’s tough to accept that there will inevitably be some “learning experiences” but whenever we do something new, something beyond our comfort zones, we are going to make mistakes. 

Some will be more expensive or embarrassing than others.

Here are my top 3 mistakes I made as a self-published author:

1. Hiring out e-book formatting

For my first book, I hired out the e-book formatting to someone I found on Fiverr—a great website to find freelancers but it can be hit or miss.

I upgraded to her service for the .mobi and .ePub file types and waited 10 days for the files.

Everything worked out well, but during those 10 days when I was waiting, I found some teeny tiny changes I wanted to make to my manuscript.

I wanted to add a call to action for readers to leave a review at the end. Simple, right?

What I didn’t realize was that my teeny tiny change meant that I would have to purchase another “gig” on Fiverr. Basically, any time I wanted to update one thing, I was going to have to spend $100 to do so.

Now, maybe it was my experience with this particular freelancer or maybe it is standard practice, but I didn’t know because I had never tried formatting an e-book before.

What I did know was that I wanted to learn the process myself so that I wouldn’t have to pay for every little change I wanted to make to my e-book file.

I also didn’t want to have a manuscript riddled with dead links, or missing references to my subsequent books until I could amass enough changes to make a new revision worth the money.

Lesson learned: format your own e-book.

Which, not surprisingly, leads me to my next mistake…

2. Improperly formatting your own e-book

Having learned an expensive lesson with my first book, I learned a cheaper, but more time-intensive lesson and embarrassing lesson with my second book, serving as a cute reminder that the universe loves keeping things in equilibrium.

I may have saved a few bucks but I paid for it in ego.

I researched how to use Scrivener to format my e-book files to look and feel like my paperback version.

I really wanted e-book users to have as similar an experience to paperback readers, and I knew I could make that happen using the wonders of the technology at my fingertips.

I uploaded my manuscript into Scrivener and followed the online tutorial step-by-step.

Everything looked good on my end. Download file, upload file, wait, preview, make a small change, download, upload, wait, preview, etc.,

I probably downloaded and uploaded 50 versions to my Kindle app, double checked everything using the author tool, KindlePreviewer, and even asked my mom to check the files on her phone, tablets, and Kindle reading devices.

After checking what felt like more than enough times, it was thumbs up.

Time to hit publish.

Bam. I sent out the e-book files to everyone who had pre-ordered the book (300+ people) with instructions on how to get them onto their e-reading devices.

Woo hoo! Pop the bubbly. 

Two months later, I get an email from a fellow self-publisher friend who sent me screenshots of my Kindle manuscript on her Kindle Paper white device.

This must be wrong, I thought, this e-book is a mess! 

The formatting was, in a word, wonkadoo.

Fonts and text size randomly changed throughout a paragraph, and the spacing was inconsistent.

My e-book was a hot mess.

Completely unreadable.

OMG, I had sent that out to EVERYONE and was currently encouraging people to buy it and it looked like my daughter’s worst tangled hair day.

I was shocked my friend had made it as far as she did reading my e-book before she emailed me the screenshots.

What I didn’t know and what I hadn’t counted on was that the newest Kindle devices are not display options in the KindlePreviewer software. Come on, Kindle, what’s up with that?

That meant that readers with newer Kindle devices (like Kindle Paper white) were not seeing what I was seeing because KindlePreviewer was only showing me the most ancient Kindle device displays. What a surprise, right?

The readers with the latest Kindles were seeing all of the backend formatting that was jumbled when I imported my Word manuscript into Scrivener where I formatted the file.

Everything looked great on my end but it was a hot mess behind the scenes. I felt like I was walking down the street feeling like hot stuff with my dress tucked into my underwear.

Embarrassing.

I spent hours combing through every chapter to remove all of the improper formatting manually. Again, these were things I couldn’t see—everything still looked fine in Scrivener, but the screenshots showed otherwise.

After assuming there was an error on every line, I reformatted my +100k-word book by hand, waited a bit, crossed my fingers, and asked my friend to upload my latest file onto her Kindle device.

Once she gave me the go ahead, I republished on Kindle Direct Publishing.

In short, it was an embarrassing nightmare, but I learned that if you go to the “Look inside” feature on your Amazon sales page, you’ll see what the readers will see when they look at your e-book.

A few lessons learned here:

1. Test your e-book on every device imaginable—new and old.

2. If you’re formatting an e-book for the first time, you will most likely make mistakes. This will probably take hours of trial-and-error to correct.

3. Think like a reader and click on all of the things they might click on when navigating your Amazon sales page.

4. Profusely thank readers who point out embarrassing mistakes.

3. Not planning a series from the beginning

After spending months researching and pouring long nights and early mornings into my first book, it never occurred to me to publish more than one.

I emptied myself into my first book. I gave it my best stories, effort, and energy.

Publish another book?

That’s like asking a woman who has a one-month-old baby in her arms when she’s going to have another—the answer is “get out of my face.”

However, if you can get over your desire to slap someone across the face when they ask about “your next book,” think about the momentum you’re generating when you publish and market your book.

People read your book, and they want more from you—that’s the best compliment a reader can give a writer.

Because I thought I’d only have one attempt at this book publishing process, I made my first book way too long.  My second book was STILL too long for many readers.

Instead, I should’ve waited until I had amassed enough content for a three-book series and then gotten everything lined up and ready to release over time.

By thinking about a series on the front-end, I would’ve been able to plan out my covers so that they coordinated in design.

I would’ve been able to pace my readers so they wouldn’t be exhausted after book #1.

I could’ve given my readers more content every 9-12 months on a schedule, and the momentum from one book would flow directly into another.

Everything would’ve been easier from a marketing perspective.

Lesson learned: If you think there is even a remote possibility of a series, pause and plan out as much as you can in advance. You’ll save money on cover design, marketing, and you’ll be giving your readers exactly what they want—consistency.

But, in the end, none of these mistakes sunk my ship—I’m still sailing.

Self-publishing involves a lot of trial and error and without a doubt, you will make mistakes just like I did.

Actually, you’ll make different mistakes, and when you do, send me a message and I’m happy to laugh along with you in solidarity.

Do better when you know better and keep on chugging along.

 

Want to grab lifetime access to my comprehensive course on self-publishing?

It’s for beginners and it contains lessons learned like these and much, much more.

Click here to test drive the course with free access to the first two lectures.

5 Reasons Why Every Author Should Know How to Self-Publish

Just as race car drivers don’t need to be engineers or mechanics, they all have a basic understanding of how their cars work. Why? Because it’s professional to be knowledgeable of all of the moving pieces that affect your career.

Every writer needs to understand the publishing process whether they self-publish or not.

Here are 5 reasons why it’s crucial for writers to know how to self-publish:

1. Understanding the bigger picture improves the quality of the end result

The publishing process is step-wise and methodical. There is a series of activities that must be addressed in sequence in order for an e-book or paperback book to come together.

However, if you don’t think about who is going to be reading your book until the end when it’s time for marketing, you’re going to climb a steep hill and struggle to connect with readers. 

By thinking of the marketing at the onset of the book development and publishing process, the end product will be better for the reader.

There are a lot of questions that an indie publisher must answer while publishing a book and they all affect the reader’s experience.

What font to use, what cover design to select, how many chapters, etc., All of these factors are pieces of the puzzle. Understanding how they all fit together is important if a writer is going to create a book that is a pleasure to read.

Take away point #1: Think about the readers and the reading experience from the beginning to provide high-value content that resonates deeply with the reader that results in a loyal following.

2. You’ll know when you’re being ripped off

“What I didn’t know was what NOT to pay someone for their services. I had no idea if I was getting a good deal or not.” – Clara Wiggins, The Expat Partner Survival Guide

When a writer understands all of the moving parts of the publishing process, they get a feel for the market rates for editing, graphic design, and typesetting services.

Knowing what aspects a writer can DIY themselves because the on-screen instructions are easy to follow can save someone a lot of money.

Many companies will charge a pretty penny for merely pressing a button and a lot of writers will pay for that “service” because they don’t know what they don’t know.

Take away point #2: You control the costs when you understand how to recognize valuable work and services.

3. Greater independence and control

Without understanding the e-book and print publication processes, many writers are reliant on other third-party publications to review, evaluate, and approve their work before publication.

Knowing how to create your own e-book and paperback and how to sell them on Amazon means that a writer has 100% independence and control of their final word.

It also means that they can move at whatever speed they want. You, as the writer and self-publisher, become the rate-limiting step—not factors beyond your control.

Many traditionally published authors are going indie because they were tired of feeling like their careers were in other people’s hands. 

Self-publishing means that the person who cares the most about your book is in charge. 

Take away point #3: Once you discover how great it feels to call the shots for every aspect of your book, you’ll never want to give up that joyous freedom.

4. You can do the easy fixes

Even if you’re not tech savvy, you can do some really easy fixes, believe me.

You just need to know when something is an easy fix.

Want to update your Amazon sales page? That’s a 30-second update. All it requires is logging into your Amazon seller account, modifying the text, and pressing save.

However, some writers need to submit changes to someone else who gets to it when it fits within their workflow, which could take days or even weeks to fix. A 30-second fix shouldn’t take days to make.

With the author in control, these quick changes are done in a snap.

Investing in the learning process now saves you a lot of time later on.

Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, took hours figuring out an easy bug fix that was brought to his attention after running Facebook for a few years. Had he had basic skills in web development, he would’ve saved a lot of time.

Take away point #4: You’ll learn that not everything requires expertise. Some basic knowledge goes a long way.

5. You’ll spot new trends

The self-publishing world is changing so quickly, and new technology is emerging every few months that make a writer’s life much easier than even a few years ago.

Did you know that there is a free software program that will do your e-book formatting for you?

Whaaaat? I know! I tested it out, and the pros and cons are available to my students, but believe me, and there will be more software coming in the future just like this that helps writers save time, stress, and money.

Knowing the process means that you can spot these trends easier than if you handed over your work to a black box and said, “Here. Do it for me.”

Take away point #5: You’ll see solutions everywhere once you are familiar with the problems.

What is involved in learning the publishing process?

Have I convinced you that it’s worth your time to have a working knowledge of the publishing process?

Now, I know that everyone is busy. Many writers have full-time jobs and write in the evenings, and the thought of taking on one more thing to learn is overwhelming.

That said, if you want to be an independent author—someone who makes smart and effective decisions in their authorpreneurship—then having a working knowledge (notice I did not say expertise) in the publishing process is extremely valuable in the long-term.

If you want to learn more, I’ve developed a comprehensive step-by-step guide to self-publishing.

Enrollment in this all-video course comes with lifetime access to all upgrades (remember all of that technology that is forthcoming? Yeah, I’ll be updating the course to reflect the latest and the greatest in the field), a printable PDF guide, and a closed Facebook community to provide support and answer questions.

What you get:

– independence
– increased competencies in self-publishing
– reduced wasted efforts
– money saved
– stress reduction
– accountability
– valuable networking with fellow indie authors

Sound good?

Click here to increase your smarts on self-publishing.

You’re Not Going to Make Money Selling Your Self-Published Book But You Still Should Do It

The truth hurts but I’m not going to lie to you—book royalties are pennies. PENNIES.

Unless you’re a NYT bestselling author, you’re probably not going to make real money selling your self-published book.

I mentioned this briefly in the 5 Myths of Self-Publishing but really, self-published authors see book royalties as the sprinkles on top of the cake.

Reality: even NYT bestselling authors use their books to launch other things like speaking tours, interviews, and other non-book activities.

Let’s look at real-life examples

One of my friends, Imad Elabdala at Kidnovation, used Kickstarter to launch his children’s illustrated book for Syrian refugees and has since spoken on the TedX stage about vulnerability and confidence, been a guest on countless radio stations, and has won national awards for his work in community outreach for refugees.

The book highlighted his mission and all of the work he was already doing in that space and exposed more people to his work.

Another great example is self-published author, Stephanie Espy who created the book STEM Gems and has since launched a movement to get more girls interested in STEM fields.

Stephanie has been nurturing her career for the past 10 years and the successful launch of her book has led to her receiving numerous awards and multiple features in the press

And finally, Estonian entrepreneur, Tiina Bruno, became the thought leader in creating sustainable workplace environments for families after publishing her book, Föräldramart, in Sweden.

Her company, ParentSmart Employers, is helping companies around the world make better use of parents’ skills developed during parental leave.

She was the first person to quantify the competencies and skills gained during parenthood and translate them into real value in the workplace. 

All of these authors have the same thing in common—their work was further enhanced and validated after they published a book on the topic.

External validation

When you publish a book you can always say you are, “First name Last name, author of Book Title,” on your bio and in introductions at conferences and at speaking engagements.

Hello, external validation. 

People who are interested in your work will take a look at your book on Amazon. They’ll browse through your reader reviews and lo and behold, your expertise and professionalism in your subject area just increased tenfold.

So, whether it be a dream of yours to see your name on a book’s spine, your desire to tell a story that is currently missing on your bookshelf, or a way to translate and preserve your experience and expertise in a book, you will reap untold benefits after you publish your book.

After you’ve published a book you’ll not only be able to raise your rates but you’ll also have more…

– Speaking opportunities and engagements

– Podcast interviews

– Newspaper coverage

– Collaborations with others in the field/genre

– New projects and activities that result from the book

Your book is the final frontier in your career but a stepping stone to countless other opportunities that can make you money, increase your professionalism, and establish your expertise on a topic and that is why you should do it.

It’s not about the book.

It’s about everything that comes after you hit “Publish.”

5 Myths of Self-Publishing (Plus a fun video)

Myth #1: Self-publishing is for untalented writers

It varies by genre but many traditionally published authors are going now self-publishing or publishing with independent presses.

New York Times bestselling authors like Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs (gah, I loved that movie), left her publisher and took back the rights to 7 of her 12 books.

Good for you, Claire!

She said she feels more in control of her writing career than ever before.

“Instead of waiting for the next thing to go wrong, instead of feeling like I can’t get close enough to my own career to move it in the right direction, I wake up every day and get right to work. I’m ridiculously busy, but I’m learning so many new things about writing and publishing and connecting, and I spend all day (and often a chunk of the night) doing the work I was born to do.” – Claire Cook

If you love reading about dirt on the revenue grabbing and what finally made Claire say, “enough is enough,”  then read her tell-all here.

I’ll also remind you that NYT bestselling book, The Martian by Andy Weir started out self-published on a Reddit thread. Reddit, folks. Andy tested out his science fiction story on a discussion forum.

Some self-publishers have talent…some do not. Just like traditionally published authors.

Myth #2: Self-published books are low-quality

Not to brag or anything, but my readers often ask me the name of my publisher. I confidently reply that my publisher is me. I did all of this.

Many self-published books have identical quality to those from the Big 5 publishers.

In fact, that’s why I created a webinar about the essential elements of a beautiful book. I want to raise the standards for self-publishers.

Let’s create some amazing books, here, ok?

Want my design tips on the essential elements of a beautiful book? Grab my free video training here.

Myth #3: Anyone can self-publish because it’s super easy

I dare you to say this to an indie author. I. Dare. You.

Traditionally publishing houses hire experts for each department. They have teams of editors, proofreaders, typesetters, graphic designers, marketers, and distributors. They have lawyers and accountants who advise them on how to run the business of publishing books.

An indie publisher must learn the workings of all of that and make decisions about pricing, marketing, and of course, content.

Wearing all of those hats can become a lot for any one person to take on, which is why many self-publishers hire freelancers to help them with their books.

Myth 4:  You’ll never make money selling books

It’s not in the selling of the books where you make money but in all of the other things that happen after you publish your book.

I’m talking about speaking engagements, conferences, lectures, and other opportunities and partnerships that come after people start discovering your work.

It seems like everyone has a blog these days but not everyone has a book—that’s because it’s a ton of work to self-publish a book and most people don’t have the time or expertise to do it themselves. 

Self-published authors who are prolific writers and create an extensive library can and do make money. It’s not impossible but like anything, it takes hard work and consistency. 

Myth #5: Self-publishing is basically free

This one makes no sense to me. I’m not sure why anyone would think that creating something that other people want to buy is A) easy to do or B) cheap to create.

NOPE!

If you want a high-quality beautiful book that readers will recommend to their friends and family to read themselves, you have to invest in high-quality design, editing, and layout. Let’s not forget about marketing.

At the end of the day, creating a book is not free and depending on the type of book you want to create, it can become quite expensive.

If you’re interested in learning about the true costs of self-publishing, you can access my free webinar here.

 

My take on the 5 common misconceptions of self-publishing is captured in the video below. Enjoy!

 

 

Perspectives from a Fellow Self-Publisher: Clara Wiggins

Learn from other authors and figure out what works in this series where I interview those who have been there and done that.

What was your biggest mistake in self-publishing your book?

My biggest mistake was writing my book before I started my blog.

Had I built my blog first, that would have helped me reach more people with the book with a ready-made audience for The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, and I would’ve been able to better answer the questions my readers had.
 

Especially since my book was more of a self-help guide for a specific community, it would’ve helped me had I been able to connect with my readers beforehand. Also, a blog is a great way to explore what it is you want to write about in your book. 

That said, I’m not sure I would’ve had the time to maintain a blog and write the book, so there is always a balance to find.

Did you take any courses or study how to self-publish before you started?

I took a self-publishing marketing course and read Self-Printed, which I used like a guidebook to help me through each step of the way. I also went on a writer’s retreat and spent a few days brainstorming, writing a pitch for publishers, and started my first chapter.

Really, I jumped right into it and made it up as I went along until I started to get the hang of it.

Did you hire any experts to help you?

I hired people to help me with the editing, proofreading, cover design, interior layout, and e-book design. I uploaded all of the finished materials to Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace myself and it was quite easy to follow the on-screen instructions.

One of the hardest parts was knowing how much I should pay for each service. Pay too little and you’re sure to have low-quality work. Pay too much and you’re getting ripped off.

It’s really important to know what you shouldn’t be paying someone.

What other challenges did you experience? 

It was really hard for me to know if my idea was worth anything or not. I received great feedback from my editor but only I really cared if my book sold or not.

My editor made some great suggestions about leading between chapters—recapping what had been said at the beginning of my chapters and letting the reader know what was coming next at the end of each chapter. That really improved the book for the reader and made it easier for them to keep reading.

How much did you spend self-publishing your book?

I didn’t want to spend more than $1,500 on the editing, cover design, and e-book formatting but I can’t remember exactly how much everything cost in the end.

I was very cautious with my budget but I recommend investing in services that would take you days to figure out but someone else only a few hours to do. Your time is valuable. 

What is the most exciting thing about self-publishing?

That excitement you feel before you press “Publish.” It is so rewarding to get feedback from readers who let you know that your words have touched them in some way.

There’s also no better feeling than holding your book in your hands and thinking, “Wow. I did this.”

What advice would you give to someone thinking about self-publishing?

Don’t put out anything you aren’t proud of. Remember that the book is only part of your brand.

After publishing my book, I’ve launched a freelance writing career and people take me seriously.

Think about the branding of your book and create something that can follow you wherever you go (e.g., speaking engagements, webinars, courses, etc.,) and is easily recognizable.

Do you have any future plans for more self-publishing?

No plans at the moment to revise or update the current book. I am thinking of creating a short companion e-book, The Repat Survival Guide, but nothing is set in stone.

 

Bio

Clara Wiggins is a freelance writer and author of The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide.

Read more of Clara’s writing on her website: https://clarawiggins.com/

 

Clara was very budget-conscious and self-published her book for less than $1500.

Design a smart budget for your book with this free webinar on how much self-publishing can cost indie authors.

Click here to access the free webinar.