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From Karen Saunders

Your Branding, Marketing & Self-Publishing Coach

The Top 10 Self-Publishing Bloopers

I attended the CIPA (Colorado Independent Publishers Association) meeting last month and their topic was “self-publishing bloopers.” I took some notes, added my own items and compiled a list for you.

  1. The number one mistake is not having your book professionally edited. There are different levels of editing: content editing, copy editing and proofreading. In my August 2014 post I describe in detail these three types of editing services.
  2. Missing the bar code. If you don’t have a bar code on the back cover of your book you won’t be able to sell your book in bookstores or on Amazon.
  3. Bad cover design. Your cover sells your book. Hire a professional designer to create a stunning, attention-grabbing cover.
  4. Bad interior layout. Your book interior needs to be clean, organized, easy to read and meet standard formatting guidelines. One example of poor layout is the book titled A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. This controversial autobiography was revealed by Oprah to have fabricated content, and the interior layout is missing indents! It is extremely difficult to see where one paragraph ends and another begins.
  5. Blank back cover. Your back cover is valuable real estate to sell your book to prospective buyers. Make use of your back cover to include a snappy headline, bulleted benefit points, testimonials, summary, short biography and a call to action.
  6. Misleading cover design and title. Make sure your title, subtitle and cover graphics accurately portray and support the interior content.
  7. No copyright page. This is the most important page in your book. In my October 2012 post I include a list of necessary items for this page.
  8. Missing the ISBN number and/or LCCN number. You must have an ISBN number to sell your book anywhere other than your own website. Buy a block of 10 from Use the second number in the list for the ebook version of your book. If you want to sell your book to libraries, you must have an LCCN number. Get one free from the Library of Congress.
  9. Using MS Word to lay out your book. This application is not a good choice for book interior page layout. It does not have the functionality and tools required to create a professional-quality layout. Use Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress.
  10. Not having a well thought out marketing plan in place before you publish your book. How and where will sell your book? You may need coaching to optimize social media tools for marketing your book. Learn about publishing support sites where you can drive interest in your book, gather pre-sales and raise funds. Self-publishing is a business, not a hobby.

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