It’s never been easier to publish a book, but that doesn’t mean we should
I once read a self-published book, a novella. I read it for several reasons: it was recommended (which turned out to be a bad reason), it would be a quick read, I’d never read a novella, and it was free (I got what I paid for).
On the plus side, the opening captured my attention, the storyline was intriguing, and the ending was a delightful surprise. On the negative side, the book did not flow smoothly, was poorly edited (or not edited at all), contained many errors, and was poorly converted into e-book format. Overall, the great ending did not overcome all the negative elements.
Self-Published Book Success
For a self-published book to be successful, it needs what all great books need:
1. A Promising Idea
If you don’t have a great story idea or theme, don’t start writing. This novella did, but its implementation fell short.
2. A Compelling Opening (a Hook)
The opening didn’t grab me, but it was sufficient to make me want to read more.
3. Great Writing
I felt I was reading a rough draft. Elements of good writing were present, but they were too sparse to be effective.
4. Professional Editing
The novella may have been self-edited (never a wise idea) or done so on the cheap, but the result wasn’t even close to professional. While publishing perfection is hard to achieve (if not impossible) the goal should be to get as close as possible.
5. A Satisfying Ending
The ending of the novella was superb. It was the most notable element of the work. But one good line does not make a good book.
6. A Memorable Title
Some titles are hard to forget and others are hard to remember. I can’t recall this novella’s title.
7. An Attention-Grabbing Cover
The cover didn’t hurt the book, but it didn’t help either. If I were judging this book by its cover, I would have passed.
8. A Pleasing Layout
In print, a self-published book shouldn’t look self-published. (We can’t always define it, but we know it when we see it).
In electronic form, the formatting should flow smoothly with no glitches, misplaced text, bad alignment, or floating words or titles. In any good book, the interior design should be innocuous.
When people notice the layout it becomes a distraction.
9. Effective Marketing
The above items all relate to the quality of the product. (There are more elements to consider, but these are the main ones.) A quality product requires effective marketing. A stellar book with no sales will not be a success, nor will great marketing of lousy writing work out.
If you’re considering self-publishing, be it in print or e-book, make sure you cover all nine of these items before proceeding. Your book’s success will depend on it.
Here’s a resource I recommend from Jerry Jenkins, How to Publish a Book.
Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.