Three Mistakes to Avoid When Self-publishing an eBook

Creating an eBook is a great way to reach an even larger audience. However, it's important to do it right, or you risk turning off potential readers. I asked Joel Friedlander, an award-winning book designer and the author of A Self-Publisher's Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to..., for the three the most common mistakes he sees indie authors make with their digital efforts. Here's what he had to say:

  1. Don't just copy the front matter from your print book. Print books often have lengthy front matter before you actually get to the content. This doesn't work well for e-books, where only a small sample is available to browsers before they buy, and if it's entirely copyright, dedication page, contents and so on, they won't get to see your awesome writing.
  1. Don't make your eBook cover too complicated. Trying to fit lots of images to represent all the themes in your book won't work very well when the cover is reduced to the size of a postage stamp. Instead, keep it simple and legible.
  1. Don't use tabs, spaces, or manual line breaks in your file. Although your manuscript might look fine to you, all of these elements will put codes into your book file that will keep it from flowing properly on an e-reader and create a book that looks unprofessional.

To learn more about Joel, visit You can also follow him on Twitter (@JFbookman). In a future post, I'll ask him for his thoughts on mistakes to avoid when self-publishing a print book, so be sure to check back.


Maria Murnane is the best-selling author of the romantic comedies Perfect on Paper, It's a Waverly Life, and Honey on Your Mind. She also provides consulting services on book publishing and marketing. Learn more at


This blog post originally appeared on Reprinted with permission. © 2012 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Comment by Carol Hogan on December 5, 2012 at 4:24pm

Thanks for sharing this advice. I'm collecting all of it in order to make a decision about which way I'll go, and every little bit helps.

Comment by Mary T. Wagner on December 4, 2012 at 5:34pm

Thank you for the head's up! I just trimmed out most of my front matter in my book Fabulous in Flats, and uploaded the new version a few minutes ago!

Comment by Olga Godim on December 4, 2012 at 3:31pm

There seem to be bad news for self-published writers, coming from Amazon.

I wonder if the above 3 advices, although definitely sensible, are already outdated. Would anyone self-publish in 10 years? Or would it cost too much, so only rich would be able to do it?

Comment by Julie Luek on December 4, 2012 at 12:53pm

I have no idea which way I'll eventually go when I'm ready, but I love reading everything I can about the options and best practices. Thanks for sharing, Maria.

Comment by Maria Murnane on December 4, 2012 at 12:48pm

 @Anne, definitely not. Many authors these days self-publish only e-books. I have a webinar right here on SheWrites that explains the steps for both traditional and self-publishing if you'd like to check it out. Here's the link--

Comment by Anne Parks on December 4, 2012 at 11:14am

So, this may be a silly question, but here it goes anyway: Do you have to have a print book to have an e-book?  I am so new to this whole thing, and never really considered self-publishing.  Still trying to learn about all the various publishing avenues.

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