I began my career as an indie author. Today, I'd like to share two mistakes I made when working with a professional designer that cost me a LOT of money. If you pursue the self-publishing route, I hope you can learn from my experiences and avoid making these mistakes with your book.
1. Proofread your manuscript while you can still make changes.
I wanted my novel to look as professional as possible, so I paid a graphic designer to lay it out using the same design software that traditional publishing houses use. He did a fantastic job, and I was extremely pleased. When he was done, I printed out five copies of the manuscript and asked friends to catch any small typos I'd overlooked in the countless times I'd read it myself.
They found more than 100 errors. Yes, more than 100!
I don't own design software, much less know how to use it, so to correct all those typos, I had to call up the designer and go over them on the phone one by one. This was a process that took several hours. Hours! I was paying the guy $75 an hour, so that quickly added up.
2. Confirm the trim size you want.
Trim size is the length and width of your book. I chose one and relayed that choice to my designer (same guy as above), and then requested a sample in that size. When the book arrived, I decided it was too large to hold in one hand comfortably. I asked the designer to shrink it just a bit, but he told me that wasn't possible with the design software he was using. In other words, if I wanted to change the trim size, he was going to have to start from scratch - and charge me again.
In the end I had him change it, but it cost me a pretty penny.
The lesson learned? Use professionals to lay out your book, but before it's converted into a format you can't change yourself or for free, be sure it's exactly the way you want it.
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 www.mariamurnane.com.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2013 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.