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Self-Publishing Don'ts

I enjoy mysteries with an archaeologist or forensic anthropologist as the protagonist, so I happily delved into a book by Dana Cameron called Site Unseen, an Emma Fielding, archaeologist, mystery. This was an eBook, so maybe the print book was better done, but the eBook typography used an extra space between each paragraph. This is an annoying but common mistake I see repeatedly in self-published books. It makes me wonder if the publishers actually read books by the big name publishers.

The space between paragraphs is okay for nonfiction and for the Internet. It should not include an indented first line. It’s apparently a default in Microsoft Word but can easily be changed. For fiction, where a space between paragraphs should mean a change in setting, speaker, or time, this space becomes an irritant. I usually will not read a book that has that space.

There are many nuances to typography. For instance, it’s no longer acceptable to use two spaces after a period. Times have changed. Typewriters are

antiques. Only one space, please. Readability is enhanced with consideration to the width of a line in relation to the type size on a page. Breaking up a gray page of type with subheads helps make nonfiction pages more appealing.

In a book called The Zero Line by J. Kinkade, I was surprised to find Chapter 1 begin on the left side with the Dedication on the reverse. That may have saved paper, but it was a mistake and so blatant a mistake that I’m sure most readers caught it. The book also began with a chapter on terrorists plotting an attack. Not what I wanted to read about. I was going to toss it aside but I started Chapter 2. This began with a couple discussing an antique clock the wife had bought in an historic town near my home in Maryla

nd. Interest perked up but not enough to get me through the book and the terrorist plot. My point is that the book alternated two different genres, only one of which I wanted to read. Of course, it was all wrapped up at the end, but I didn’t get that far.

The most obvious sign of an amateur is a poorly designed cover. Aunt Mabel may paint beautiful flowers and cousin Billy

shows amazing talent, but don’t use them for your cover design. Prices for a professionally designed cover can reach up to and beyond a

thousand dollars or be as low as $100. You can find beautifully designed covers at, but unless you are skilled at typography, hire their designers to add the type, spine and back cover. They can produce an excellent cover for you at a reasonable price. The photo at left is of my latest book with a cover from Title is The 90s Club & the Mystery at Lilac Inn.

Self-publishing involves a number of skill-sets including editing, proofing, cover design, page design, typography, and marketing. None of these are simple, easy to learn, and easy to execute. They all are crucial to the marketability and credibility of your book. An amateurish product gets poor results.

Also, I suggest joining the Independent Book Publishers Association,

, which offers information, education, marketing avenues, awards, and other benefits for members. It also has done much to even the playing field for self-published authors and small presses.

Photo: Book Fair display of my self-published books.


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