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If you’ve been asking yourself how to self publish a book and still look professional, the answer is in the details. Not only is it possible to take the self publishing route and still deliver a truly beautiful product that will compete with any traditionally published book on the virtual shelves, but it’s easier than ever to accomplish. 

Self publishing is becoming a very popular option for many aspiring authors. . . and for good reason. When you self publish, you don’t have to split the profits with a publisher, and it generally takes much less time than trying to secure a traditional publishing deal. Plus, you get full creative control over your book. 

But self publishing isn’t a simple process. When you self publish your book, you take on all the roles and responsibilities of a traditional publisher: you organize all the formatting, design, publishing, distribution and marketing yourself, with your own time and money. As you can imagine, this creates a lot of room for error, and any mistakes you make in the process will likely make your book look, well, self published. And books that look self published are harder to sell to readers and potential media and influencers.

So how, you might be asking, do you go about the self publishing process so that your book doesn’t end up looking self published? Click here to read 8 Common Self Publishing Mistakes to Avoid to learn where many authors go wrong on their self-publishing journeys, and continue reading below for five simple tips and tricks for how to self publish a book the right way.

How to Self Publish a Book and Still Look Professional

1. Don’t rush it

One of the main reasons self-published books end up looking unprofessional is that the author tries to rush the process, which usually requires cutting corners. If you want your book to look as professional and beautiful as possible (and you should; why else did you spend all that blood, sweat and tears writing it?), you’ll want to make sure you take as much time as it requires to do every step the right way. Authors who either take our online course on how to self publish a book, or who hire us to self publish for them, typically take 4-6 months from finished manuscript to published book. It’s possible to do it in three, but any faster than that is usually not advisable. 

2. Don’t skimp on cover design

We can’t express this enough: do not skimp on your cover design. If you’re not a professional graphic designer with a good understanding of the design elements behind book covers that sell, do not attempt to design your own cover. And for goodness sake, do not use the book cover generators offered by self-publishing platforms like Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, Lulu and the like. If you do, your book will look self published. Period. 

It’s worth every penny to hire a talented cover designer who will take into account any rules specific to your genre, special design elements and fonts to use to help tell your story, and generally give it a professionally designed “feel” that will instantly take your book from amatuer to professional. It’s important to keep in mind that the cover is the first thing potential readers will see — and judge — and it will be a large part of their decision to buy it. Plus, most of them will see it in a small thumbnail on Amazon first, so the design must look good on a small scale. Most designers know to take this into account.

3. Don’t format the interior yourself

Similar to the point above, if you attempt to format your book yourself, it will undoubtedly look self published. Some authors think they can use pretty fonts and styling in Microsoft Word and then just upload the document as the interior for their book, but it’s a quick giveaway that it was done by an amateur. Interior formatting is a technique that formats the book to the specific trim size (ie 6×9 or 5.5×8.5, the two most common book trim sizes), so unless you plan to print an 8.5×11 (printer paper size) book, your Microsoft Word document will not automatically fit into a standard book size. Take our word for it: Hire an interior formatter. 

4. Use an imprint

In the self-publishing world, there is something called an imprint, which is essentially a made-up publishing company that you can associate with your book on Amazon. When you self-publish your book, you become the publisher. You can choose to publish it under your name, or under a company name, and we highly recommend using a company name, also known as an imprint. You can call it anything you want, such as Blue Sky Press or Maple Leaf Media. This adds an extra touch of professionalism for anyone curious about where your book was published.

Note: Using an imprint will require you to purchase an ISBN — a unique identifier  — for your book. It costs a little extra, but it’s well worth it. If you use Amazon KDP’s free ISBNs, for example, your book will be listed as self published on their site! For more on where and how to buy them, check out our on-demand course, How to Self Publish Your Book

5. Price it appropriately

Many authors make the mistake of assuming that if they price their book lower, they’ll sell more copies. This an Economics 101 mistake since price is not the driving factor when it comes to books. It’s probably the 5th or 6th criteria that most readers consider. Things like the theme of the book, the author’s reputation, how the book is presented, and whether it was endorsed by significant people or media platforms, are far more important factors. If someone gets to the point that they’ve heard of your book and taken the time to go to your Amazon page to check it out, the chances are that they’re pretty likely to make a purchase. So the key is to find the highest price that won’t make them think twice about completing the purchase. This way, you’ll get maximum royalties without driving anyone away. How do you do this? We recommend looking at other best-selling books in your genre that are roughly the same length and pricing your book within that general range. Most paperback trade books fall into the $12.99 – $17.99 range, and most ebooks are best sold at $9.99.

Bonus: If you’re confused or overwhelmed, take a self publishing course.

Are you having trouble piecing together all of the free self-publishing information out there? We know it’s a lot, and it can quickly become overwhelming. If you want step-by-step guidance, and all of the information in one place, easily at your fingertips, consider taking a course on how to self publish your book. There are a lot to choose from, but ours gives you a decade of industry experience and our unique self-publishing formula, plus step-by-step instructions for how to easily replicate it so you can self publish your book (and not look self published). 

There’s no doubt about it: Self-publishing can be a confusing endeavor. But you’re already one step ahead of the rest because you’re here, doing your research before you begin. If you listen to these five simple steps, we have full confidence your book will stand out in the crowd.

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