Book Beauty 101 for the Self-Published Author

Big publishing houses have editors, designers, illustrators, researchers, proofreaders, indexers and a slew of other professionals on staff to polish and shine your manuscript to immaculate eye-catching beauty. However, when you are the author and self-publisher, you will be responsible for all the beauty tricks yourself. You don’t want people to know your book is self-published simply because it “looks” self-published.Inner Book BeautyThe “meat” of your manuscript-the part that contains the main story-is just one part of your manuscript. There are also several sections that have nothing to do with the main content. However, they each serve a purpose, but not all are needed in your manuscript. You need to become familiar with each of them, and choose which ones you need to include in your book.If you thumb through the first few pages of a fiction book, you will often find fewer technical pages than in nonfiction. For example, a table of contents is often up to the writer in a fiction book. Are your chapters merely numbered, or do they have headings? If your chapters are titled, it would be wise to create a table of contents. Below is a list of other sections that may be included in your book.
Title page. The title page is the first page of the book. This page lists the title, author, publisher and year of publication. The back of the title page will typically provide copyright and publisher information, the ISBN and Library of Congress numbers, any legal disclaimers, and the place of production.
Introduction or Preface. This is a personal note from you to the reader. You can use this to tell the background of how the book came to be, or why you chose to write it and what you want your readers to gain from the book.
Acknowledgments. This is the place where you get to act like an Academy Award winner and thank everyone who assisted in bringing your book to life.
Dedication. A bit different from the Acknowledgment, this is where you can give homage to a person, group, organization or cause which has provided inspiration to you as a person.
Foreword. This is an introductory essay that discuss the content of the book, and why it needed to be written. This is typically written by someone else. Oftentimes authors will invite an expert in the field or a celebrity to write the foreword. The foreword can help add credibility to your book. If you decide to have this page in your book, it usually precedes the author’s preface.
Table of Contents. This includes chapter headings, subheadings and the corresponding page number.
Notes. These follow the main section of the book, and give credit to sources and reference material. Some authors will also include a few blank pages for the reader to make their own notes.
Appendix. This section at the back of the book includes supplementary material. It can include charts, directories, lists or other additional reference material.
Index. Not every book needs an index. However, it is advisable to include an index in a nonfiction book, particularly if your book is intended to be used as a reference or guide book.
A good editor will take out the rough spots out of your writing. Nothing screams poor self-published book like a bunch of typos. The editor will not only handle misspellings, they also handle the technical parts of editing that we all take for granted, like when to hyphenate a word or when the hell you’re suppose to use a semi colon.Getting a typesetter will format your book, adding the appropriate fonts, margins, line spacing and paragraph justification to make you book shine.Outer Book BeautyYour book’s cover is its prime real estate – the golden shores with the beach side sunsets, if you will. The information you include, particularly on the back cover, is as important as your business card. The front cover will lure the reader in. But it’s the back cover that will close the deal. So choose carefully how you build on this site. Some of your options for the back cover are:
Synopsis of the book, carefully written to excite the reader about its possibilities. Try to include what the reader will gain from reading the book or, more importantly, how reading the book will solve a problem.
Your professional photo. Notice I said “professional” photo. If you’re writing a technical and professionally driven manuscript, then have professional headshots taken. It would be best to avoid the glamour photos you had made ten years ago complete with hot pink feather boas. Avoid the family photos (cropped to include someone else’s partial shoulder), or pictures from the “drunken-frat-parties” you attended in college. You will also need a professional headshot photo for your future book promotions. So take the time to get professional, manuscript-specific photos taken.
A brief biographical sketch of your background, only as it relates to the book. If you are an unknown writer, no one cares about how many “adorable grandchildren” you have. Readers want to know how you are qualified to solve a problem, provide benefit to their life, rule the world or ease them into fantasy realms.
Testimonials from other authors or experts in your field are a fantastic addition.
Reviews that you have received from advance copies you sent to publications or experts.
Be methodical in developing your cover. It is important to hire a designer that understands your vision and possesses the level of creatively you need to have your book stand out. Make sure everything you see on the cover of your book is something to grab and pull the reader into their wallet. Top quality is worth its weight in gold.