4 Tricks To Give Your Self-Published Book Edge

As a self-published author, I know from experience that there’s a lot that comes with getting your book ready and out into the masses. Even before you start down the path of self-publishing there’s much research involved in whether to go the traditional route or maneuver the industry yourself.

When you do make the decision to self-publish, you may be overwhelmed by weeding through the many services and options available to make your book top-notch. From choosing the right cover design to finding a superb editor, getting the time, energy, and discipline to dedicate to your book is a journey just as important as getting the story onto paper in the first place.

Here are some tips you may otherwise overlook when sorting through all of your book publishing responsibilities.

1) Book Size: If you’re taking your book to print (which I highly recommend), consider book size and how that works hand-in-hand with the jpeg file size of your cover. Standard book sizes for fiction are 5.25″ x 8″ and 5.5″ x 8.5″. To help decide which size I wanted to choose, I researched popular fiction books in my genre and noted their dimensions.

2) Line Spacing & Justification: When having my book first printed, I didn’t consider line spacing or justification. I ordered a proof where my manuscript used double spacing and left justification. I was horrified when I opened it up! Stay away from formatting your book like a recent college grad and use 1.25 or 1.5 spacing (I prefer 1.25) with justified lines.

3) Font: Times New Roman is not your friend! Though this ubiquitous font may be a go-to option for standard documents, Times New Roman is a dead giveaway that your book was self-published. Consider fonts like Garamond or Caslon to really give your book a professional edge. Not a fan of the former two fonts, consider these options as well.

4) Page numbers: Lastly, make sure to have your page numbers formatted to go with the correct page. Sounds easy right? If you’re not a design maverick, you may easily let where to position odd and even numbers slip past the cracks. Remember to keep odd numbers on the left page and even on the right. In the instance of my book, the first page that starts on the right is marked with the “2” page number.

Costs of Self Publishing A Book

If you’re like me and decided to self-publish, you might come across some promo pitfalls. Self publishing a book requires marketing savviness and putting together a strategic plan beforehand, which may seem daunting. And even then, after you seemingly have all of your ducks in a row, you have to also be financially prepared to deal with unexpected costs you’ll incur.

Whether you chose to self-publish a book or go through a publishing house, promoting your work falls into your hands. Let’s face it, raising awareness about your book involves a lot of self-promotion. Where do you start? First there’s building a website for your book and next you might turn to social media or online media marketing. After you’ve exhausted these efforts, meaning you’ve outfitted your website with a blog and amassed an enviable social media following, you’ll have to start to get creative and that creativity costs.

Basics Costs

We’ll start with the basic costs–your website, business cards, book cover design, and social media platforms. You will inevitably incur multiple costs setting up your website, though they’re nominal at best. There’s a small fee for reserving your domain name, usually under $20, especially if you go through Go Daddy or Sustainable Domains. If you don’t have hosting in place, you’ll also need to get a monthly subscription to a hosting site like Bluehost. Fees for hosting are around $10-15/month or you can pay upfront for the full year and receive a discount.

Business cards are the next essential when it comes to publishing a book. Similar to costs for having a website, purchasing business cards shouldn’t break the bank. With sites like Vistaprint or Moo, you can order 100s of cards for around $50 or less and that should last for months.

Hiring a book cover designer is another must for indie authors. A great cover design can set your book a part, which should be a feat most authors strive for. To avoid having a poorly rendered cover, invest in an experienced graphic designer. I put book design (or visual design for that matter) under basic expenses, because with tools like Fiverr you can get amazing graphics for your book promo campaign for under $20.

Setting up and posting on your social media platforms are, of course, free. Yet when it comes to increased engagement and driving brand awareness, paid options are available. This may be the best route to go for a few months, especially if you’re a new author. Costs for promoting or boosting a certain post on Facebook ranges anywhere from $5 upwards, whereas if you want to promote your page or create a targeted ad, costs can vary. For Facebook, generate a spending a cap and maybe start with $100/month if you’re low on funds.

For Twitter, you can also pay to have certain posts promoted, or have your entire account promoted. Once again, set a spending allowance and gage accordingly to how many followers and post engagements you’re receiving.

Moderate Costs

When it comes to self publishing a book, it’s natural to invest in more pricier promotion tactics. To drive more awareness, you’ll have to spend a little bit more. Things to consider are entering writing contests, running a promotional giveaway, and giving books away for free.

Entering book writing contests, I’ve found, can easily drain a budget. Not only are there entry fees, you also have to account for purchasing your own book to submit (unless you have an ebook), and the shipping costs.

Depending on how many writing contests you want to submit your book to, you’ll have to budget accordingly. Entry fees can vary from free to $90 for one book submission. However, if you want to submit your book under different genres or if you have multiple titles, there are additional fees.

Other moderately expensive costs include running a promotional giveaway. Signing up to run a giveaway through woobox.com or rafflecopter.com isn’t too pricey. However, promoting the giveaway through ad placements, purchasing the prizes and having them shipped can all add up quickly. Make sure to have an idea of which websites you want to promote your giveaway on and how much it will cost before running a promo.

Lastly, an expense that may be overlooked, is purchasing your own book to give away for free. This can easily offset your weekly or monthly budget. Think about how many copies you will need for a certain period of time, including books you’ll send to book writing contests. Are you going to send books to certain media influencers, previous professors, book store owners, candidates interested in doing a review, etc? Invest in Amazon Prime for free shipping if you’re going to continuously purchase your book throughout the year.

Expensive Costs

Costs that can really cause some damage if you’re a new author on a budget, like myself, may include purchasing and distributing press releases using PRWeb.com, buying advertising space, and having your book displayed nationally at different expos like Book Expo of America.

Preparing a press release isn’t too pricey, especially when using the aforementioned site Fiverr to help. However, submitting a press release through an industry-standard, credible site like PRWeb.com can be cringeworthy when keeping in mind finances. To submit one press release with a link (and of course you want to have the option to link back to your site), comes in at around $250. If you submit a press release per quarter, you’re already looking at $1K. Or more importantly, if you’re hosting events or a newsworthy promotion on a frequent basis, you can easily end up spending more.

When organizing your event, giveaway, or promotion, make sure to factor press release creation and distribution into your budget.

Purchasing ad space is also significant and important to increase exposure of your book, heighten brand awareness, and drive sales. With virtual ad options available through Google or on relevant sites using buysellads.com or blogads.com, you can except to spend upwards of a few hundred dollars. And that’s just online. Considering flyers, posters, pedicabs, or even a billboard? Expect your spending to increase even more.

Last but not least, having your book displayed at large national expos or conferences can be crucial to get your work in front of industry professionals. If you can’t afford to attend these expos in person (a trip to Book Expo of America can run around $3K-5k for airfare, hotels, booth arrangement, having books on hand for a giveaway, etc), you can opt to have your book displayed without you being there. For BEA, display costs are $300. Plus you have to ship them your book.

Self publishing a book can be stressful. From constant self-promotion to setting a financially solid budget to market your latest work, being an indie author requires savviness on all fronts. With the guide above, map out a blueprint of what and when to spend money on for additional publicity.

Things to Consider Before Publishing Your (e)Book


You have the first draft of your book prepared, you’ve decided where you’re going to publish–Smashwords, Createspace, KDP, or even KDP Select, and you’ve built a robust social media following. What’s next?

There are a few things to consider before you publish, and I’m going to break down the top 5 pieces of the puzzle you may have overlooked or potentially undervalued.

First things first, make sure you enlist the help of a solid editor and beta reader. Both provide their own strengths when it comes to reviewing and helping you shape your manuscript. An editor will of course catch grammatical errors, commonly confused words, punctuation trip-ups, etc. They may even provide comments as to what’s working or not in your story.

A beta reader on the other hand will read your work and make sure plot points succinctly fall in line and that there are no inconsistencies in your story. They essentially critique your piece.

Next, the sooner you start querying bloggers for reviews the better. I had to learn the hard way when I started reaching out to bloggers after I had published The Willow Tree, and they projected time frames of completing reviews within a 6-8 week window. Once you have a solid first draft, start your outreach campaign.

Third on the list of to-dos before publishing your book is to map out how you want your cover design to look. This seems obvious, but can easily be overlooked or put off until the last minute. You may have back-and-forth with your designer which could take considerably longer than you had initally planned. Having your final cover design prepared months before your book is published can ultimately aid with promo materials.

Start preparing various formats for your book. Drafting an interior layout for a paperbook is a challenge. You have to consider the title page, copyright page, dedication page, as well as things like headers and page numbers. What looks well on the screen may not translate onto paper. So start formatting early and order multiple proofs to mark up.

Ebook formatting is just as cumbersome and involves additional formatting that your paperback layout won’t be able to help you with. If you’re transferring from a Word document to Kindle or Smashwords, hidden characters may cause your book to upload incorrectly. Use tools like Calibre, Atlantis, or KindleGen to make sure your manuscript looks spot on before submitting. And remember to give yourself 24-48 hours before your book appears in Amazon’s store.

Lastly, order business cards. Of course we know internet marketing is essential to advertising. However, word-of-mouth is not dead. Use your book cover image on the front of business cards and pass them out at various networking events. This will get the buzz going before your book is released!

When you’re in a time crunch, consider using Fiverr to help with some of the above tips like ebook formatting and book cover design.