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How to Self-Publish a Polished, Professional Novel

Updated on April 7, 2014
Self-published books need to be just as well-edited as their traditionally published counterparts.
Self-published books need to be just as well-edited as their traditionally published counterparts. | Source

Publishing a Professional Self-Published Book

Self-publishing is becoming an increasingly popular option for authors, with sites like CreateSpace, Lulu, and Amazon offering easy and even free tools to format books for Kindle, Nook, or traditional print formats.

Self-publishing is also a tempting offer for many authors because it allows the author to retain all of the rights to the book and to control how the book is marketed, distributed, and used. A drawback of self-publishing, though, is that the author doesn't have a team of professionals behind the book doing the editing, cover design, and interior formatting. Because of this, it's fairly easy on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble to tell the difference between a book from a traditional publishing house and a book that has been self-published.

To help your self-published book stand up against the competition, it needs to be well-edited, have a professional cover, and have a well-designed interior, free of excess white space or funky formatting.

Ready to Promote Your Self-Published Book?

If you're ready to market your book, you'll need honest, well-written reviews from readers--check out my Fiverr book review gig to get your first review!

An editor can not only catch distracting typos and grammar errors, but can also help you polish your plot and fix pacing or characterization issues.
An editor can not only catch distracting typos and grammar errors, but can also help you polish your plot and fix pacing or characterization issues. | Source

Do you notice spelling and grammatical errors in a book?

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Editing is Essential for Your Self-Published Book

Think back to any time you've found a mistake in a book--a misspelling, a grammatical error, an extra comma in a sentence. Did it jar you out of the story? Did it make you think less of the book? It's rare that books from traditional houses have errors of any sort, whether spelling, grammar, or punctuation, because those houses have a team of editors and proofreaders going over each book with a fine-toothed comb.

However, it's fairly common for self-published books to be riddled with errors. Why? Either the writer thinks he or she doesn't need editing; the writer uses a friend or family member with no professional background in editing to look over the book; or the writer tries to proofread the book him or herself.

None of those paths are adequate! First of all, everyone needs an editor--even the biggest names in publishing have editors, to tighten their storylines, point out when things don't make sense, and address plot, pacing, and characterization issues.

Second, friends or family members are great for positive feedback, but it's rare you'll get a truly honest, constructive opinion--and unless your friends or family members have professional backgrounds in editing, it's unlikely that they will be able to address where you novel needs to be improved.

Third, it's almost impossible to proofread your book yourself--your mind will fill in the words that are missing and skim over any errors.

A book filled with errors is an unprofessional book, and readers who pay for it will likely put it down in frustration and not read your next work.

Invest in a professional editor to make your book as polished as possible; you can search for one via sites like or, or just do a search and browse among the many professionals on the internet.

A professionally designed book cover can draw more readers to your work.
A professionally designed book cover can draw more readers to your work. | Source

A Great Cover is a Must for Self-Published Books

Think of your favorite book covers--what do they look like? What elements do they have in common? Now, think of some self-published book covers you've seen--while some are amazing, many are cheesy and poorly done, with canned font and stock photography that doesn't quite express the feel of the book.

Unless you're an expert at Photoshop or have hours to become so, don't try to make your own cover. An amateur cover will deter readers from purchasing your book.

While some cover designers charge $500 and up for a cover, you can find very talented designers for a range of more affordable prices. Just search the internet until you find a good pick.

A great cover will equal better sales.

A well-designed book interior goes a long way toward making your self-published novel a polished product.
A well-designed book interior goes a long way toward making your self-published novel a polished product. | Source

The Interior of Your Self-Published Book Must Also Be Perfect

Though you may not think about it when you're engrossed in a novel, a lot of work goes into designing the interior of a book! Book designers choose the perfect font, line spacing, margins, and header and page number placement.

If you open a book and find crammed sentences, excess white space, or other funky formatting, the book is not only harder to read--it looks unprofessional and may turn off a reader.

For interior design of a book, you can do a decent job yourself using tools provided on sites like CreateSpace or Lulu; you don't necessarily have to hire someone. However, if your book includes a lot of illustrations or design elements, a book designer can certainly make your book more polished and professional.

It's the details that count!

Self-Publishing as an Art

Your writing is an art--and think of self-publishing in the same way! Editing, cover design, and interior book design are all elements of your art that allow the story itself to shine.

Chances are, you've invested a lot of time in your book--invest a little more to make sure it's professional and polished. This will expand your current readership and keep loyal readers coming back.


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    • linsadair profile image

      Linsey Adair 

      4 years ago from Montana

      Great advice and direction! Thank you :)

    • SaffronBlossom profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Thanks Randi! Awesome about your friend's novel--thinking positive thoughts for its success!

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      6 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Thank you for all the great advice, One of my friends just published a novel. She used an editor and a cover designer. Up, interested and useful!


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