Note: Nothing I say here makes me an expert or an egotistical bitch. Too many self publishers fail in the following ways, giving everyone who self publishes a bad name.
- A Real Story: If your story doesn't have a beginning, middle, and end, with strong characters that are believable, entertaining, and put into situations that carry your plot... Then don't self publish. Weak or incomplete stories full of plot holes are just... Don't. And stay away from the cliche. There's enough stories out there about a boy and his dog or stories describing large penises and very wet pussies. Think outside the box. Be creative. Find new descriptions.
- Beta Readers: Yes, if more self publishers had others read their work, then my first point wouldn't be a problem. Having others critique your story is an important test run that can help you smooth out any wrinkles and help you generate ideas.
- Editing: My biggest complaint! HELLO! When reading a book, I don't want my flow of the story to be disrupted by typos, grammatical issues, or points of view that change in the same paragraph. A professional proof reader (or even a teacher or someone with an English degree) is a must. Unpolished is unprofessional. Twitter & G+ is full of helpful sources. Check out this post by Julia Proofreader, whom you can see for your British English needs, or get in touch with my personal editor, Paige Prince, for American English help.
- Formatting: You know what's not cool? Reading a self published book that screws up the basics. I'm talking about paragraph form, hyper links, etc. I hate seeing big chunks of empty space or weird indents. Read Smashword's Style Guide (it's free to download). It tells you step by step how to format your manuscript for their site, and much of it can be translated over to other publishing sites like Amazon. If you're too inept to figure it out on your own, you can pay someone to do it for you. Smashwords has a list of people, or you can probably find someone on Fiverr.
- Covers: Don't judge a book by its cover? Yeah right. If your cover fails to grab your ebook-searching audience, then it won't sell. Computer challenged? No problem. Google "ebook cover design" and buy or commission one. It's worth paying for.
- Marketing: If you think clicking the "publish" button on your chosen site is the magic way you're going to sell your self-published book, you'd be wrong. Smashwords will give you your 15 minutes of fame in their just published feed, but other than that, no one will know you or your book exist without marketing. Build an author platform! A blog is a must, and communities like Twitter, Facebook, G+, and Goodreads are great places to connect with both other authors as well as your target audience. Participate in blog hops, find others to review your work, talk with others who enjoy your chosen genre, and advertise without being a shitty spammer. Yeah... DM's on Twitter sent by a service like justunfollow is annoying because it's impersonal. Potential readers want to interact with real people, not an automatic response.