Marvin and I are embarking on our first self-publishing effort: Building a Small Cable Suspension Bridge. I spent weeks researching, choosing photos, writing text and captions, editing, proofing, and formatting what we hope is an attractive little book with some interesting and helpful information. After several reads, we asked a structural engineer to look it over and make comments. We’re hoping for a nice quote from him to put in the marketing material. The final step will be to order a proof and go over things one more time before we publish. It has been a long process, but we want to do a good job.
Today I read about a premiere book launch of another self-publishing effort. I was excited to see some nicely designed covers, but when I read the teasers for the books, I was disappointed to find typos and punctuation errors. It immediately crossed my mind that if I purchased one of these ebooks, I would find more errors inside. Like the majority of readers, I get irritated when I spend money on sloppy production. Unfortunately, spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors are the scourge of self-published books (and blogs). Sometimes the errors are so rampant we lose sight of some good content.
I can’t seem to preach enough that taking the self-publishing route means that you are taking on the jobs of a group of professionals including editor, proofreader, designer, producer, and an entire marketing department. Granted, you may feel you are smarter than the editors who have been rejecting your stories – and often it’s true, publication decisions are often based on whim. But if you’re going to self-publish your book, it is your obligation to your readers to do a superb job. Sure, we see errors in traditionally published books more and more these days, but that’s no excuse for you to do the same shoddy work.
Hire a copy editor or have at least three English-savvy friends read your manuscript. Have someone read the final proof before you publish. Give us a great cover. Tease us with provocative marketing material and try it out on ruthless critiquers before you make it public. And for God’s sake, proof everything!
Rant over. Here is our tentative book cover. I might spiff it up but my ruthless critiquers seem to like it: