Monday, July 11, 2011
Three Book Chores You Should Not Do Yourself
There are three book chores you should not do yourself:
1. Design the Cover
Unless you make a living as a graphic artist or photographer, do not attempt this at home. They scream amateur from ten miles away. New, small publishers, particularly those established by authors wanting to publish their own books then branch into books of their friends and others, often "settle" for this type of cover. I click on the site. I see distorted colored pencil drawings or stiff-legged horses or sloppy watercolors and immediately draw a conclusion about the quality of the books and the company's publishing ability.
Hire a professional to design your cover. A beautiful, polished cover sets the stage and puts the reader into a positive state before he cracks open the book and reads Chapter One.
2. Format the Book
Again, unless you work for a publisher or printer, you will struggle with formatting. Word processors are lousy formatting tools. Guido Henkel (love that name) formats books for a living. In his recent post on the blog The Book Designer, he says:
I have seen countless recommendations on the web that tell authors not to use things such as curly quotation marks, em-dashes or ellipses because they supposedly cause problems. This is ill advice at its worst, really. When created properly all e-books can safely feature typographically correct text. You simply have to take the time to understand its underpinnings and do it right.
Your ebook sits on the same site as those from St. Martin's Press and Random House. Don't think that readers will not compare.
No, you cannot edit your own work sufficiently to make it shine its best. No, you cannot skip this part of the process. No, you will not catch the misspellings, typos, grammar errors or stupid errors, because as their creator, you see them as correct or don't see them at all. Your eyes play tricks as does your brain. When you are so steeped in a story, after months or years of writing, you will NOT catch all the gaffs. Sorry. Find a fabulous (professional) mentor, join a writers group (of people published and better than you), or hire an editor, maybe even two.
I don't care who you are, I'd bet serious money on the fact that at one time, if not now, you pondered for a second that you could do one or more of the above. You can't. Get that out of your system, and find pros. You are competing with entire publishing houses when it comes to these three chores. The minute you compromise, you shortchange yourself and handicap your sales.