Three Important Tips for Serious Self-Publishers

How to Ensure Your Book Emulates Trade Publisher Quality

If you are serious about book publishing and want to present yourself to the public as a professional author, then there are three important things you must do….

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There seem to be a few book printers out there disguising themselves as book publishers these days. “Publish your book in just thirty days!” and “Publish your book for only $599!” seem to be popular search-engine catchphrases. While it is true that you can print a book in that timeframe for that cost, there is so much more to publishing it properly. Below are three crucial steps, leading up to the printing stage, that require a much greater investment of your time and money if you wish to produce a truly polished result.

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Have Your Work Copy Edited By a Professional

The fact is, self-publishers’ books are competing in the marketplace with trade publishers’ books. Trade (traditional) publishers always have their books professionally edited. Always. This is why they can boast such high quality. In light of this, can self-publishers truly afford not to have their work edited? It may seem excessive to some, but it is a necessary investment if that author is serious about publishing and competing in the marketplace.

Make no mistake, not all copy editors are equal. Expect to pay a minimum of $0.025/word for a quality copy edit which equates to $750 on a 30,000 word manuscript. If you’re paying any less than that, bottom line, you’re not dealing with a professional. Time wise, you’re looking at two to four weeks for a copy edit to be completed correctly.

Hire an Expert to Design Your Book Cover and Interior

No matter how engaging your story may be, the public is going to “judge your book by its cover” before they ever decide to read it. As such, the graphic design of your book—both inside and out—should receive the same professional attention as the content itself.

Just as not all editors are equal, there is also a noticeable difference between a book designed by a human/mechanical template builder and one designed by a professional graphic artist. Expect to pay between $500 and $600 for your initial cover/interior combo. As long as your designer receives clear instructions and trouble-free files, you should receive your first draft within about two weeks.

A Qualified Proofreader Should Review Your Hard Proof

Always, always, always request a hard proof whenever you are publishing physical books. Electronic proofs are fine for e-books, but you might be surprised by just how different a page looks on a computer screen compared to how it looks in print. You’ll notice things on paper that you may not see in a .PDF file.

Not only should you give this hard proof a once-over yourself, but you should also hire a professional proofreader—a different set of eyes from your copy editor—to do the following nine-point check:


• the front matter (such as the table of contents) is accurate and correct
• the back matter (such as the index) is accurate and correct
• headers and footers are accurate and correct
• bad breaks are eliminated
• text is kerned to flow smoothly throughout
• margins and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct


• spacing, bleeds, and trim size all measure properly
• spelling and punctuation is correct

Expect to pay a minimum of $0.015/word for a comprehensive proofread like this which comes to $450 on a 30,000 word manuscript. It should take around two weeks to complete.

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Now you’re ready to print your book … and revel in the gratification authors can only feel when, deep down, they know they did everything that was necessary to publish a high quality product.

This article was originally published at Suite101 in January 2010

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