Monday, January 7, 2013

5 Biggest Errors in Self-Published Books

There are a lot of ways that self-published books can go wrong: bad writing, lots of typos, no character or plot development.  A lot of these problems the reader will discover after picking up and actually reading your book.  I've downloaded various free ebooks over the holidays and am amazed at the number of errors I've seen before I've actually read the first page though.  How do these authors expect to gain readers if the reader encounters so many problems before they even start chapter one?

  1. A blurry cover.  I know a lot us aren't graphic designers, but there are enough software programs and clip art images out there that most authors should be able to create a decent, if simple, cover for their ebook.  I've seen a few books where the image, book title, and author's name are so blurry, I could barely read them on my computer screen.  Now imagine how that looks as a thumbnail image on my Kindle.  If the image you have doesn't work, look for another or resize it properly.  I'm not going to buy a book if I can't even read the name of it.
  2. Typos/Grammatical Errors in Book Synopsis.  It can be challenging to edit a full-length novel and even more difficult to edit your own work.  In fact it always is best to have a second pair of eyes to review something.  But a synopsis is only several paragraphs long.  It's what I see when I'm deciding to buy your book or not.  If you can't run spell check or proofread for grammatical errors on something so short, what makes you think I'll want to purchase and read your entire book?
  3. Missing Table of Contents.  A lot of us gripe over formatting documents in Word, but if you can figure out how to generate a Table of Contents (TOC), then you can insert it into the right place.  I was reading a freebie I downloaded the other day, and the TOC was on the very last page.  This wasn't helpful at all and is such an easy thing to fix.  When someone downloads a preview of your book, the first pages including the TOC are always included.  This helps me see how long the book is, which can be sometimes difficult to judge otherwise when buying an ebook.  Traditionally published books all have a TOC, and your book should, too.
  4. A rush job. Why am I so concerned about the length of the book?  Some of the self-published "books" I've seen in the Kindle Store aren't long enough to be one chapter, let alone a short story or book.  The author quickly writes a scene or two, slaps a cover on, and posts it for sale.  I don't mind reading short stories, but I want to know what I'll be paying for.  Rush jobs are also poorly written, have lots of typos, formatting errors, etc.  If you don't want someone to immediately return your book, take the time to do a good job.
  5. A cover that doesn't match your story.  It took me hours to find an image I liked for my cover.  I'm not a designer; I didn't even know what websites to use for finding clip art.  But if you're writing an innocent love story and the cover you've chosen has the man wearing a wedding ring, that leaves the wrong impression.  If you're writing a novel intended for a more mature audience, then don't use cartoonish images of teenagers.  I'm kind of puzzled by some of the covers I've seen, but with so many choices out there, you should be able to find an image suited to the tone and content of your book.

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