Here are 25 invaluable tips for authors who work closely with editors and book designers to produce exceptional books. It is vital to have the right creative team and to understand and implement the following guidelines:
1. Understand what editors and designers do. If you don’t know, ask them.
2. Read a good book on what it takes to write, publish, and promote a nonfiction book.
3. Become an educated client. Learn about e-books, formatting, and print-on-demand (POD) printing.
4. Emails are not the best way to communicate. A conference call or a Google hangout with your whole team is better.
5. Review stock imagery ideas with your editor and designer to make sure they represent the book’s focus and genre.
6. Learn the publishing-industry terminology your team uses; (ask your editor and designer through the process), it makes communication much clearer.
7. Self-publishing? Use a print-on-demand (POD) publisher, e.g., IngramSpark and/or CreateSpace.
8. Don’t print 500 books; they will sit in your basement forever.
9. Join St. Louis Publishers Association. Find qualified professionals. Get referrals. If you’re going to use a local printer, ask people’s opinions.
10. Have a system; stay organized.
11. If your editor has a system, use that one; be sure everyone is the same page so nothing ever gets lost.
12. Give your editor the cleanest possible copy.
13. If your book is non-fiction, have a glossary and/or an index.
14. Don’t assume your audience will understand your acronyms or industry jargon; write in clear, active English.
15. When an editor tells you something doesn’t belong in a book, take it seriously. It will come back to haunt you.
16. You’re hiring an editor to do more than fix your punctuation. She sees the big picture and will help you bring substance to your material.
17. Listen to your designer with an open mind, though the decision is ultimately yours.
18. If you have an idea for an image, tell your designer, even if it something as simple as, “I’d like a photo on the cover” or “I love bright colors.”
19. Look at other book covers in your genre to see what your competition is doing.
20. Make sure your cover illustration or photo fits the genre. Be very clear about what that genre is (fiction, self-help, memoir, children’s book).
21. Don’t embed JPEGs in a Word doc. Give your designer individual files.
22. Do not use 2 spaces after sentences.
23. Read the PDFs your designer sends you. Reply with a marked-up PDF.
24. Be consistent with photo captions.
25. Use a literary attorney if your book is controversial.
Need more tips? Whether you are a first-time or seasoned author, we understand self-publishing and will guide you through the book design process. Please contact N-K, 314-548-6001.