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Book Production : 12 Avoidable Rookie Errors

image of man with hand over mouth looking like he regrets his rookie errors

Wisdom of hindsight, shared by the ALLi hive (Image: Mark Skeet via Unsplash)

There can be few indie authors who can look back on their self-publishing production projects without a face-palm moment when they recognize avoidable rookie errors. In today’s post, we share the ALLi hive’s wisdom in hindsight, by listing the top 12 mistakes that successful indie authors made earlier in their careers. But the good news is, we’re all happy to learn from each other’s mistakes! Read on, so you don’t have to make the same errors…

12 Rookie Errors to Avoid When Self-publishing Your Books

  1. Paying a vanity press to do it for you. Just, no!
  2. Publishing too quickly without understanding the difference between ebook and print book formatting. Whoah, there – it’s not a race!
  3. Thinking that home-made covers won’t look home-made. You can usually spot them a mile off.
  4. Choosing covers you like rather than covers that will appeal to your target audience and that convey the genre and content of your book. It’s not a beauty contest!
  5. Trying to be ‘different’ by using quirky layouts or unusual fonts. Guys, conventions are generally there for good reasons.
  6. Thinking that petty typesetting details like widows and orphans don’t matter. You guessed it, they do. It’s called professional polish – and readers will be glad of it.
  7. Booking a launch venue before you’ve booked your edit. Edits should not be a token gesture – and may result in a great deal more work for you before you’re ready to publish.
  8. Using a different ISBN for each different distribution platform. The rule is simple: if the product is the same, the ISBN should be the same. That’s what it’s for: a simple product identifier. (***Clarification post-publication of this post, following queries: the ISBN for the print book MUST be different from the ISBN for the ebook because they are different products: physical vs digital. Regarding ebooks, there are two formats which means there are two distinct ebook products. KDP uses their proprietary .mobi format, whereas all the other ebook platforms use the industry standard .epub. Strictly speaking, you should use different ISBNs for the .mobi and the .epub. But an .epub ebook will be the same product regardless of where you download it from. Therefore using a different ISBN for the same .epub file is not necessary for every different platform, any more than a print book printed by two different printers would require different ISBNs.)
  9. Not naming yourself as the publisher – or your chosen imprint. Give yourself credit where it’s due, folks – you’re the publisher, not CreateSpace/KDP etc!
  10. Believing that someone who is a professional graphic designer is automatically a great book cover designer. Nope, it’s a specialist field – make sure you book a specialist.
  11. Thinking you should do everything yourself. Yes, you’re the publisher – but publishers build teams around them to ensure they have the full skill-set that they need to do the job.
  12. Being mean with white space: inadequate margins, meagre spacing and too-small font all detract from the readers’ experience – to the point of making your book quite hard to read. Even though page count will affect your bottom line, at least in print, it’s important to get the balance right.

And finally, THE GOLDEN RULE that applies to all aspects of your self-publishing journey:

Don’t forget to ask other indie authors to help you – including the ALLi community

It’s a huge and generous organisation, and every single member of it has once been a newbie too. So reach out to learn as much as you can from other indies – and before you know it, you’ll be giving back to others as they have given to you.

WITH THANKS We’d hate to embarrass anyone by assigning any of these errors to individual authors, but hats off to those who shared them with the ALLi community on our Facebook forum! In alphabetical order by surname: Ladey Adey, Helen Baggott, Keith Dixon, John Doppler, Jean Gill, Mark Gillespie, Eliza Green, Alex Hallett, Dan Holloway, Karen Inglis, Kim Lambert, Rachel Lawston, and all the other author and partner members who joined the conversation.

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OTHER TOP TIPS ON AVOIDABLE ERRORS
From the ALLI Author Advice Center Archive

Book Marketing: 7 Avoidable Rookie Errors for Indie Authors

Writing: 9 Rookie Errors to Avoid When Plotting Your Self-Published Novel

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4 Responses to Book Production : 12 Avoidable Rookie Errors

  1. James Grant Goldin August 26, 2018 at 12:11 am #

    I agree with Shelley; from, say, 2013 to 2017, almost every article I’ve read urged a different ISBN for each format. Some recent articles suggest dispensing with ISBNs altogether for some digital formats. A clarification or, even better, an ALLI-approved article or checklist, would be most useful!

  2. Shelley August 13, 2018 at 2:38 am #

    Blessings to the ALLi Team!

    I am infinitely grateful for your insights and wisdom. As an aspiring author, I look forward to gleaning everything I can that will put me a step ahead of the curve.

    The article above presents one major piece of information that conflicts with almost every other article I have ever read on the topic of ISBNs. I always thought a book is a book, therefore, same ISBN regardless of format. However, every resource I have ever read indicates each type of format requires a different ISBN.

    I am interested in learning more and in having someone, such as those at ALLi, expound on the subject.

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