When a manuscript is ready, the book is far from ready to be made available in bookstores. A commercial product requires plenty of work before all elements are in place for paying customers.
When a book is available at a bookstore (applies to both online and walk-in-stores), it is a commercial product. Customers and stores have certain expectations about the product. Although free ebooks are available in stores, customers usually pay for the book. They have every right to get a flawless product. Sometimes, self-published books don’t fulfill these expectations. Here are the common problems that self-publishing authors must address before making their books available.
I have purchased and read a number of self-published books during the last year. Since I primarily read nonfiction, the most important factors affecting my purchase decision are the topic and the value of the content. Few minor flaws in a book don’t bother me, but if I frequently find errors in a nonfiction book, the inevitable question is: can I trust that all the facts are correct in the book?
Common problems in self-published books
- Spelling checkers in word processing and writing applications don’t catch all misspelled words. Sometimes, auto correction makes a wrong choice, and the meaning of the word changes. The combination of spelling checker and human eye gives the best results.
- Sometimes, I see ebooks automatically converted from a Word or PDF manuscript. There are plenty of applications that can do the conversion. Also, some ebook distributors have conversion built into the service. Although automatic conversion tools help a lot, most ebooks require some level of manual layout work before they are ready to be published.
Poor book description.
- A survey among German ebook readers indicates that the most important factor for their purchase decision was product description. Of course, this varies from culture to culture, but it shows how important the book description is. Readers want to ensure the content of the book is what they are looking for.
Difficult or impossible to find the Table of Contents.
- This applies to nonfiction books only. The content of the book is what the reader is buying, and the table of contents is an excellent window to it. Of course, the table of contents doesn’t have to be included in the book description, but it should be viewable behind a link or in a sample.
Why some readers avoid self-published books
Publishing consultant Sandra Beckwith has seen so many poorly produced self-published books that she decided to write an honest and direct article that addresses common problems that she has encountered. Here are the key points that have negative impact on a book:
- The book content doesn’t deliver what is promised in the description.
- The title fails to reflect the content, and nonfiction books may lack subtitle.
- Cover image is not exactly at the level expected from a commercial product.
- Look Inside feature at Amazon Kindle Store is disabled for the book.
- Book description is written like a pushy ad.
- Author bio is missing or it is irrelevant in relation to the book.
Few authors can do every step required for publishing a book by themselves, but help is easy to find at freelance sites and here.